News has been released that is sure to please anyone who values quality film criticism: At The Movies, the film review show that started with Siskel & Ebert then moved onto Ebert & Roeper after Gene Siskel sadly passed away, is now having its current hosts, Ben Lyons and Ben Mankiwicz, replaced by The Chicago Tribune's Michael Philips and The New York Times' A.O Scott.
Lyons (from E! Entertainment) and Mankiewicz (from Turner Classic Movies) took over from Roger Ebert (who hadn't appeared on the show for a while because of health problems) and Richard Roeper last year in some sort of futile attempt by Disney-ABC to make the show appeal to a younger audience (how else can it be explained?).
The move was met with much outrage from the movie community (those who like to hear in-depth film discussion, that is), particularly towards Lyons because of his style of reviewing, which is anything but intelligent (he actually called I Am Legend, "One of the greatest movies ever made," a blurb which was then used on one of the film's promo posters). Here's the Daytime Disney-ABC Television Group press release about letting go of Lyons and Mankiewicz:
"We tried something new last season and we think the world of Ben Lyons and Ben Mankiewicz. They did everything we asked of them and they have been complete professionals. However, we've decided to return the show to its original essence - two traditional film critics discussing current motion picture and DVD releases. We thank them for their hard work and dedication this past year and wish them nothing but the best on all of their future endeavors."
Phillips and Scott were two of the most frequent guest hosts who stood in for Ebert because of his health problems, and they'll bring back a lot of the credibility that At The Movies lost when Ebert and Roeper were replaced. I read Philips' reviews regularly, Scott's occasionally, and both evidently really know what they're talking about when it comes to films and getting into the nitty-gritty of the details of them. Part of the press release about them reads:
"Both of these seasoned and influential film critics, who have appeared on the series repeatedly as guest co-hosts, will bring their extensive credentials and respected personas to the program."
Even though the merit of a movie review show like At the Movies - which crams numerous reviews into a single half hour - can be debated, I think it's definitely good news that these new hosts have been brought on board.
Do you watch At The Movies? Do you like that Lyons and Mankiewicz have been replaced?
Michael Phillips and A.O Scott will start hosting the show on September 7th, 2009. Quick note: If you want to view almost the entire back catalog of At The Movies reviews, you can visit the official website (warning: addiction may occur).