It was a sad day for both the industry and the country yesterday, when we lost one of our greats with the passing of Roger Ebert. Ebert was a trusted and esteemed film critic, journalist and writer, or, as Jon Stewart introduced him when he appeared on The Daily Show in 2006: “the film expert, the analyst, the man.”
We’re remembering Ebert by revisiting that appearance (see clip above). My favorite part is when a nervous Jon Stewart tell Ebert he’s worried about hosting the upcoming Oscars. “How badly am I going to get burned?” he asks. True to form, Ebert gives Stewart a dose of candor (his trademark honesty — “Jack Nicholson is going to be staring right up at you”) before reassuring him that it was going to go well (his trademark humanity): “You’re funny, you’re smart, you’re good.”
Ebert was influential, thought-provoking, prolific (over the past year, he had written more than 300 reviews) and the only film critic to win a Pulitzer. He never stopped. Though not born into the digital generation, he was agile on social media, a frequent blogger with a tremendous social media following.
Just days before he died (and 46 years after he became the film critic for the Chicago Sun-Times), he announced that he was taking a “leave of presence.”
“What in the world is a leave of presence?” he wrote. “It means I am not going away.”
Indeed. His words, his books, his indelible impact live on. Thanks for dedicating your life to the industry, Mr. Ebert. You will be missed.