Veteran Chicago Sun-Times and At the Movies critic Roger Ebert says his cancer has returned and that he will take what he calls a “leave of presence” from his popular blog and film reviews, according to his Roger Ebert Journal.
On Wednesday, the 70-year-old marked his 46th anniversary reviewing movies for the Sun-Times. He writes that his cancer was discovered during an examination for a hip fracture in December, and he is now receiving radiation treatments.
Ebert lost his ability to speak and eat in 2002 after previous surgeries for thyroid and salivary gland cancer and significant facial reconstruction on a collapsed jaw. He did not go into details about his latest bout with the disease, saying he would still write reviews occasionally, but that others from a “talented team of writers hand-picked and greatly admired by me” would continue to pen the bulk of the paper’s film criticism.
Ebert, who celebrated 20 years of marriage to his supportive wife Chaz last July, said on a lighter note: “I’ll be able at last to do what I’ve always fantasized about doing: reviewing only the movies I want to review.”
Having gained national attention back in the ’80s with partner Gene Siskel on TV’s At the Movies – making popular their trademark thumbs up or down gestures – Ebert said on his blog that he’s reviving his website, Rogerebert.com, where a new Kickstarter campaign is poised to raise funds to re-launch the series. A second version of the TV show was canceled in 2011.
The first film critic to win the Pulitzer Prize, in 1975, Ebert hosts an annual film festival at his alma mater, the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, which is now in its 15th year. That festival, Ebert said, will continue – as will his writing.
“It really stinks that the cancer has returned and that I have spent too many days in the hospital,” he writes on his blog. “So on bad days I may write about the vulnerability that accompanies illness. On good days, I may wax ecstatic about a movie so good it transports me beyond illness.”