Roger Ebert was the most famous movie critic of his generation, and one of the most respected. “The force and grace of his opinions propelled film criticism into the mainstream of American culture,” The New York Times reported after Ebert’s death in April. President Obama reacted to the news with a statement: “For a generation of Americans—especially Chicagoans—Roger was the movies. When he didn’t like a film, he was honest; when he did, he was effusive—capturing the unique power of the movies to take us somewhere magical.”
How did a movie critic for Chicago’s second-largest paper win the Pulitzer Prize and become a national cultural icon? And how, late in life, did he become a figure of grace in the face of suffering?
On Sunday, November 10, Elmhurst College will host What Roger Ebert Meant to Us, a panel discussion with some of Ebert’s peers and colleagues from the Chicago Sun-Times, the Chicago Tribune and rogerebert.com.
Moderating the discussion will be veteran Chicago newspaperman, radio host and author Rick Kogan, who over his long career has worked for the Chicago Daily News, the Chicago Sun-Times and the Chicago Tribune, where he is currently a senior writer and columnist. He also has written a dozen books, including A Chicago Tavern, the history of the Billy Goat.
About the panelists: Michael Phillips is the film critic for the Chicago Tribune. He hosts Talking Pictures, a Tribune website for movie reviews and news. He also was co-host of the long-running, nationally syndicated TV show At the Movies in its final season, after filling in for Ebert, the host, off and on since 2006. Phillips also covers movies for CLTV and can be heard most Fridays on WGN-AM.
Neil Steinberg is a columnist, blogger and writer at the Chicago Sun-Times. He began writing for the Sun-Times in 1984 and joined the staff in 1987 as a feature writer. He became a columnist in 1996. His latest book is You Were Never in Chicago (2012). About the book, Ebert wrote: “Steinberg weaves a poetic mosaic of his life and the life of Chicago—past, present, real, imagined. Like many of its citizens, he came here from elsewhere, drawn by its brawny allure. He lives in Chicago and Chicago lives in him.”
Ignatiy Vishnevetsky is a critic for the digital film magazine Notebook, published by Mubi.com, as well as a contributor to rogerebert.com. With Christy Lemire, he co-hosted the television program Ebert Presents: At the Movies. His writing has appeared in a variety of print and online publications. He is a founding contributor of the website Cine-File.
What Roger Ebert Meant to Us will begin at 7:00 p.m. on Sunday, November 10, in Hammerschmidt Memorial Chapel on the Elmhurst campus. Admission is $20 for the general public and free for Elmhurst College students, faculty, staff and alumni. Tickets are available online or at the door. For more information, call (630) 617-3390.