Kevin Smith's implication that film critics are over-cushioned got swift counterpoint this afternoon: Disney-ABC has announced that it is
canceling At the Movies, the long-running film review TV show that was originally hosted by Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel. When Siskel died, he was replaced by Richard Roeper; when Ebert lost his ability to speak due to a cancer-related surgery, the show was re-booted with younger, much-maligned hosts Ben Lyons and Ben Mankiewicz; when everyone realized that the two Bens were very bad, the show was rebooted yet again, giving us its current incarnation, with hosts Michael Phillips and A.O. Scott, who will stick around through the show's last episode in August.
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Phillips & Scott were, to my mind, the best pairing since the original flavor, and it seemed like their version of the show was successful at bringing short-form, informed film debate back to TV. According to the corporate parents' statement, "from a business perspective it became clear this weekly, half-hour, broadcast syndication series was no longer sustainable." The two critics will keep their day jobs, as critics for the Chicago Tribune and The New York Times, respectively; Roger Ebert will likely continue to write more than both combined on his blog and Twitter.