I miss Siskel and Ebert. (Do people outside the USA even recognize these two?) As a Chicagoan, I watched their show all the way back to their local PBS days when they were saving the aisle seats and "Spot the Wonder Dog" would make appearances. I'm pretty sure back then they didn't even use their thumbs, they just gave films a yes or a no recommendation. I get my love for film and movies from my mom. When my brother and I were kids, we were not allowed to speak or make any kind of noise when the show was on. Of course my brother and I also hung on their every word (I did anyway) and loved the show best when they disagreed and started making personal cracks at each other. Witness the hilarious controversy about the merits of 1993 films "Cop-and-a-Half" and "Carnosaur".
It always used to seem to me that Roger Ebert had more fun at the movies. (He liked "Ferris Beuler's Day Off" while Siskel thought it was irritating.) My husband and I both actually also sort of liked Cop-and-a-Half. 1993 was during our pre-children 5-6 films-a-week phase.
Gene Siskel passed away in 1999 and Roger Ebert suffers from various medical difficulties that leave him unable to speak. The show "At the Movies with Ebert and Roeper" has been dropped by their distributer. I'm not nearly so fond of the chemistry between Roeper and Ebert, but I do like Michael Phillips and I hope the show will live on in new incarnations.
Mr. Ebert still reviews prolifically and has an enjoyable blog. He posted nostalgia about the end of "At the Movies" and his days with Gene Siskel. He put up these fantastic out-takes from their show showing how they both held the other in utter contempt but also loved and respected each other:
Once in the mid-1990's my husband and I were driving on the highway outside Chicago going toward Indiana and we passed Roger Ebert. He was driving a cool looking older Land Rover and he was unmistakable because the license plate was Illinois "Thumbs Up". My stomach actually did flips and I wanted to roll down the window and say something, but thought better of it. He was driving at the appropriate speed in the center lane, in case you were wondering. We were in a hurry to drive back to our home in Michigan and passed him on the left.
I've never spotted Oprah here, but once I saw her make-up guy shopping at my local Target. My stomach didn't do any flipping over him, but I chuckled. Another time my mother-in-law was looking at the same elaborate floral greeting cards as indy-rocker Liz Phair.