Citing funding issues, Roger Ebert indicated on his blog Sunday that “Ebert Presents: At The Movies” will likely end its run on PBS next month.
The series, which launched Jan. 21 with co-hosts Christy Lemire and Ignatiy Vishnevetsky (augmented by veteran Chicago broadcaster Bill Curtis reading Ebert’s critiques), was getting ratings comparable to those garnered by cable news channels, according to Ebert.
Ebert’s wife and producer, Chaz, continues to work the phones in an effort to find someone who might be willing to help finance another season in 2012.
The series’ money troubles may have been evident for a bit. Quite a number of episodes airing during the big summer movie season were merely repeats of 1970s and 1980s episodes of PBS’ “Sneak Previews” hosted by Ebert and the late Gene Siskel, bookended by brief intros and outros by Lemire and Vishnevetsky.
From Ebert’s blog:
Since we went on the air in January 2011, "Ebert Presents" has been almost entirely funded by Chaz and me, plus $25,000 in generous backing from the Kanbar Charitable Trust. We paid for the screen tests. We paid for the pilot. We paid for the titles. We paid for the set, the lighting, and all of the salaries (Chaz and I do not draw one). We have offices at WTTW, for which, of course, we pay rent. We pay for the director, the camera operators, the assistant producers, the interns, the editors and editing suites, the transmission of the show to American Public Television, lunch on taping days, everything. We also paid for the design and maintenance of the web site, www.ebertpresents.com.
We can't afford to support the show any longer. That's what it comes down to.
Find all of Ebert’s blog entry here.