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5 key facts about Roger Ebert's comeback show
After losing his voice, and part of his jaw, to cancer five years ago, the award-winning film critic is returning to TV — thanks, in part, to technology
 
Roger Ebert, who lost part of his chin to cancer, will wear a silicone prosthetic over his neck and lower face for PBS's new incarnation of "At the Movies."
Roger Ebert, who lost part of his chin to cancer, will wear a silicone prosthetic over his neck and lower face for PBS's new incarnation of "At the Movies."
Getty

Once television's most conspicuous film reviewer, Roger Ebert lost his voice to thyroid cancer in 2006. The Pulitzer-Prize-winning critic continued to write, however, and even became a celebrated online presence with more than 315,000 Twitter followers. Now he's returning to TV with a revival of his "At the Movies" series debuting January 21 on PBS. Here are 5 things to know about the show, and Ebert's comeback:

1. He's not the host
Though Ebert isn't one of the show's hosts, he will appear on-air each episode in a short segment called "Roger's Office," delivering "rants and raves." He's also an executive producer.

2. He'll use a computerized voice
During his segments, Ebert will talk by typing words into a computer that replicates his original voice (based on old recordings) using special software. (Watch Ebert speaking with his new voice on "Oprah" last year.) I give his new/old voice "a heartwarming thumbs up," says Brian Moylan at Gawker.

3. He'll wear a prosthetic chin
The critic, who also lost a portion of his jawbone in his battle with cancer, will wear a silicone prosthetic over his neck and lower face. "That's not to fool anyone, because my appearance is widely known," Ebert says. But it "will be a pleasant reminder of the person I was for 64 years... Symbolically, it's as if my illness never happened and, hey, here I still am, on the show with these new kids. When people see the 'Roger's Office' segment, they'll notice my voice more than my appearance."

4. One of the co-hosts is a 24-year-old newcomer
Ignatiy Vishnevetsky — a contributor to Mubi.com and the Chicago Reader — was "plucked out of near-obscurity" to co-host the show. Ebert contacted Vishnevetsky about auditioning for the show after overhearing him chatting with a colleague in a Chicago screening room. He's the "luckiest 24-year-old in the world," says Keith Staskiewicz in Entertainment Weekly.

5. The other is a veteran critic
Christy Lemire, a veteran film reviewer with the Associated Press, will serve as the other co-host. She's filled in as a host on previous incarnations of "At the Movies" and says she's learned a lot from watching Ebert. "There is never any snobbery about him, never any condescension. He’s completely open every time he walks into a screening to the possibility of being dazzled."

 

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