Film critic Ebert to debut TV show in January

Film critic Roger Ebert arrives to attend the Webby Awards in New York June 14, 2010. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Influential U.S. film critic Roger Ebert will debut his new television show across the United States in January, in a return to TV after a long battle and recovery from thyroid cancer.

The Pulitzer-prize winning Chicago Sun-Times critic, who lost his ability speak four years ago after surgery to treat his cancer, said “Roger Ebert presents At the Movies,” will play in 192 markets in major U.S. cities and be broadcast worldwide through the Armed Forces Network in 175 countries.

Contributing critics for the show will use the trademark thumbs up or thumbs down rating system Ebert created with late film critic Gene Siskel, who died of brain cancer in 1999. Ebert said he will contribute regular segments of his own on the show.

Siskel, who was a film critic with Sun-Times rival Chicago Tribune, and Ebert appeared on TV with a widely-watched film review show for more than two decades in the United States.

After Siskel’s death, Ebert continued the program with critic Richard Roeper, but surgery in 2006 for his cancer caused Ebert to lose his ability to speak. He went off the show and was replaced by a series of guest critics.

Ebert continued to write and review films and kept an online journal, and he communicates with post-it notes and a computer program that turns text into speech. Surgeries on his jaw shaped his mouth into a permanent smile.

Reporting by Christine Kearney, editing by Bob Tourtellotte