Web Site offers 5,000 Film Reviews From Thumbs Critics

By: Thanks to the Web, the balcony will never close. Clips of movie reviews from the TV show that made the thumb the most prestigious of digits are being posted online. More than 20 years of televised reviews by newspaper film critics Roger Ebert and the late Gene Siskel and columnist Richard Roeper were to be available beginning yesterday at the Web site www.AtTheMoviesTV.com.

The site is touted as the largest collection of video-based movie reviews online. Searchable by movie title, director or actor, it features about 5,000 lively ? sometimes very lively ? discussions of movies that always end with the reviewers' "thumbs up" or "thumbs down" evaluation.

"For years, this was a dream," Ebert said in a statement. "Now I am exhilarated that it is a reality, thanks to the enormous effort of digitizing something like 1,000 programs."

Visitors to the Web site can see just how often Siskel, the Chicago Tribune's film critic, and Ebert, his counterpart at the Chicago Sun-Times, disagreed and how passionately they did so on "Siskel & Ebert at the Movies." They also can watch "Ebert & Roeper," the show Ebert and the Sun-Times columnist have taped since 2000, the year after Siskel's death.

The site includes recent shows featuring Roeper and guest reviewers, such as Jay Leno and New York Times film critic A.O. Scott, who have appeared while Ebert recovers from serious health problems.

"It is always fascinating to go back and see what was being said about a film before it opened," Ebert said.

The 65-year-old Ebert has had a series of surgeries in recent years, including a tracheostomy, which left him unable to speak. He has written that he is waiting for another operation that he hopes will restore his speech.

Since last summer, Ebert has not appeared on "Ebert & Roeper." But he has written some reviews in the Sun-Times, where he has been the film critic since 1967 and won the Pulitzer Prize in 1975.


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