I Give This Idea One Thumb Up

As you no doubt know, Chicago Sun-Times film critic and thumbs-upper Rogert Ebert is recovering from June surgery to tend to salivary cancer in his jaw, which necessitated the removal of part of his jaw bone. He's expected to be out several more weeks, at least, and posted last week to his Web site that his condition has taken even him by surprise. Till he returns, Ebert & Roeper will go on as scheduled--with Sun-Times columnist Richard Roeper (a pretty good poker player, as I found out last year in Toronto) being joined by celeb guests and other film critics.

First among the latter group is a Chicago Tribune film critic--which, according to the Tribune, marks "the first time since the 1999 death of the Tribune's Gene Siskel [that] the two combatants on Ebert's syndicated movie review show will represent Chicago's two rival dailies." And who's that Trib film critic? His name is Michael Phillips, who some of you had best recall was the theater critic at the Dallas Times Herald in the years before The Dallas Morning News bought the place and shut it down. The episode airs September 2. And it's gems like this that made Michael what he is today:

"'Ebert's makeup artist used to work for Sinatra, which is reason enough to do it,' Phillips said of his Ebert & Roeper appearance."

Apparently, the idea was Ebert's. I assume it came to him while he was heavily drugged. I kid, because I love: Phillips is an old colleague, a dear friend, a great writer and an excellent tour guide if you happen to find yourself in the Chicago area. --Robert Wilonsky

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