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Movie Review Show Goes Back to Newspaper Roots With 'Trib,' 'Times' Hosts.

Ending a year-long failed experiment with two widely panned critics with television background, the movie review show "At the Movies" that began with dueling critics Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel from competing Chicago dailies is returning to its newspaper roots.

ABC Media Productions announced that when the TV show returns for the new season, its reviewer/hosts will be film critics A.O. (Tony) Scott of The New York Times and Michael Phillips of the Chicago Tribune.

Scott, a former book critic at Newsday, has been a film critic at the Times for nearly a decade. Phillips is a former critic for the Los Angeles Times who came to the Tribune in 2002 and was named its film critic in 2006.

Both Phillips and Scott were frequent guest critics in the last two seasons of "At the Movies" when Chicago Sun-Times critic Roger Ebert was unable to host, having lost his voice in an ongoing struggle with thyroid cancer. Ebert had worked on the show with Sun-Times columnist Richard Roeper after the 1999 death of Chicago Tribune movie critic Gene Siskel. Ebert and Siskel originated the show as "Sneak Previews" on the local Chicago public television station in 1975.

Brian Frons, president of daytime for the Disney-ABC Television Group, said, "We've decided to return the show to its original essence -- two traditional film critics discussing current motion picture and DVD releases."

Phillips and Scott replace Ben Lyons, a former film critic for the E! network and "Good Morning America" on ABC, and Ben Mankiewicz, a host on the Turner Classic Movies cable TV channel. "The two Bens," as they were nicknamed, were roundly criticized for the show's pacing, and, especially, for Lyons' halting performance. The ratings for the show sank after the departure of Ebert and Roeper, and showed no signs of rebounding.

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Title Annotation:At the Movies
Publication:Editor & Publisher
Article Type:Brief article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Aug 6, 2009
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