Roger Ebert: Eight Things You Might Not Have Known

By Mark Deming

Roger Ebert was America’s best-known film critic – and arguably its best. But that was hardly his only accomplishment in a long and distinguished career. Ebert, who died Thursday at the age of 70, wasn’t just a critic, but a screenwriter, a music fan, an on-line activist, a historian, and even Oprah Winfrey’s date for an evening. As we remember Ebert’s life and work, here are eight things you might not have known about the man.

Ebert invented “Two Thumbs Up.” Ebert’s famous TV partnership with Gene Siskel began in 1975 with a local program aired once a month called “Coming Soon To A Theater Near You.” By 1978, it had become a weekly PBS show called “Sneak Previews,” and was a hit in the ratings. When Buena Vista Television (a division of Disney) offered Ebert and Siskel a more lucrative deal in 1986, they took it, but needed to make some changes so as not to seem like they were ripping off the old show. That meant no longer giving movies a “Yes” or “No” vote as they had before. “I came up with the idea of giving thumbs up and thumbs down,” Ebert later said. “And the reason that Siskel and I were able to trademark that is that the phrase ‘two thumbs up’ in connection with movies had never been used. And in fact, the phrase ‘two thumbs up’ was not in the vernacular. And now, of course, it’s part of the language.”

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Box Office: ‘The Hunger Games’ looks for a mammoth ‘Harry Potter’ level opening

Forget ‘Twilight’ Katniss is going after everyone’s favorite sorcerer

Monday, Mar 12, 2012 10:25 PM
Gregory Ellwood

Get ready to hear a lot more about “The Hunger Games” than you ever expected.  The adaptation of Suzanne Collins 2008 novel has been the center of tremendous hype ever since it was labeled the “next” “Twilight” franchise after Lionsgate acquired the big screen rights in 2009. However, with only 2.9 million copies in print the fan base isn’t anywhere near the level Stephenie Meyer’s franchise (116 million copies in print as of Oct. 2010).  Well, much to even Lionsgate’s surprise it appears lightning has struck twice and “Hunger Games” is about to ravage your local movie theater.
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US Weekend Boxoffice top 10 (Mar. 2-4, 2012)

1. Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax
2. Project X
3. Act of Valor
4. Safe House
5. Tyler Perry’s Good Deeds
6. Journey 2: The Mysterious Island
7. The Vow
8. This Means WarGhost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance
9. Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance


The 84th Annual Academy Awards 2012

Best Picture: The Artist
Best Director: Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist
Best Actress: Meryl Streep, The Iron Lady
Best Actor: Jean Dujardin, The Artist
Best Supporting Actress: Octavia Spencer, The Help
Best Supporting Actor: Christopher Plummer, Beginners
Best Original Screenplay: Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris
Best Adapted Screenplay: The Descendants
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