Gene Siskel - Wikipedia
Siskel and Ebert often fought and argued, but were in fact dear friends. Their relationship is explored in the recent documentary Life Itself, about Ebert's life. Gene Siskel theorized that Roger Ebert's alleged need to always be the two have been "described as the most real relationship on television. Playboy Interview: Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert When people ask me, “What is your relationship like?” the best answer I can give is, it's what you see.
Both of them said that they would spend more time on a movie. I think we should do that. I would like to see a show devoted to one film. We did it about ten years ago, and we ought to do it again. I think we could spend a little more time on detailed analysis. Let the argument go on a little longer, not make it so snappy. Let it get uncomfortable. This is two people talking about the movies.
Do you think most people are watching you because of your opinions or because of the potential for watching two people argue with each other on television? We probably agree seventy percent of the time. In the early days of television, there were open-ended talk shows with people like David Susskind, Irv Kupcinet and others on which people who disagreed with each other came on the air and fought. Then, for a long time, that disappeared and there was all this blandness.
Now you have some confrontational stuff on TV, especially on some of the cable stations. Is a movie on TV still a movie?
The thing that is so wonderful about film and made such a big impression on me as a kid is the scale. You know all the theories: You run the movie, you control the lights. The bigger the screen, the better the sound, the better the experience. The shoe-box theaters really hurt the movies. Roger, you won a Pulitzer Prize. What did that mean to you? So I spent twenty-four months in suicidal depression before I won it myself.
Gene, are you envious? I would have loved to win one. At the time Roger won his, we were in such a binary competition that it hurt. We know that your competition is intense. How do you handle it? Once, we were doing Saturday Night Live for the first time.
We were both pretty scared. It was live television. The rehearsal had gone badly. We had never worked off cue cards. We were blowing it left and right. It was just humiliating. Then it came time to cut lines.
We were hostile and felt we were both going to go down in flames. We did the show, and we did OK. The key thing you have to remember about Gene is that in situations involving fear, his defense mechanism involves anger.
Before live audiences, he becomes extremely rigid and abrupt. We were in a room with a typewriter, and Gene grew concerned that the cuts would diminish his role.
I started counting words to prove to him that that was not the case. So by the time we went on the air, we were both complete basket cases.
What about your behavior during this? You described my behavior, but what about your own? I was the one with the typewriter who was writing the script.
Gene was stalking around dictating. It happened most recently the last time we were on the Arsenio Hall Show. Gene was told by some functionary what we were supposed to do. Later, the executive producer gave us different instructions.
When I tried to inform Gene, he said that he already knew exactly what he was supposed to do. That is what he often does. My way to deal with this is to have no contact with him whatsoever until we go out to do such a show. What was the all-time low in your relationship for each of you?
Roger taught me a rummy game on an airplane once. It involved a discard pile and a meld pile. As soon as he taught me the game, I began beating him regularly. At one point, he thought that I had discarded something when I had just conveniently put something down on the little plastic tables they have on airplanes. It became such a big deal with him. He starts raising his voice: I was in shock. The stakes we were playing for were pennies.
That was an all-time low, because it was so trivial. We were once on the Letterman show. We go back downstairs. The original limousine is still waiting. The second limousine has not arrived.
Gene gets into it and tells the driver to take him to the art gallery. I want to go to the airport.
The second limousine never arrived and I took a taxi to the airport. Did you confront Gene about it? Oh, I talk to him. He will not respond. He just goes into the stone-faced routine. He has often said that when we get mad, I explode and he implodes. The madder I am, the louder I get; the madder he is, the quieter he gets.
My recollection is that I had a limited amount of time to get where I was going. I had been told to take that limousine, and they were ordering another limousine for Roger. There was time for him to make it to the airport. I felt under duress, because he was getting angry. When he gets angry, it can be very unpleasant. I felt bad doing it.
Which of us do you think has a greater need to always be right? To be diplomatic about this, we would say that perhaps Gene wants to be right more but that you think you are right more. I have more innate confidence in the fact that I am right.
After all these years, Roger, have you changed to outmaneuver Gene?
YES, SISKEL, EBERT LIKE EACH OTHER
I think I was a sweeter and more trusting guy earlier on. I always feel that Gene is thinking of the angle, so I have to think of the angle, too. And I always feel like I lose. He always gets the angle on me. He gets the limousine. But you got the Pulitzer Prize. And he gets Spy magazine. He manipulated Spy magazine. A lot of his behavior may come out of military school. I was told, apparently, while I was watching a baseball game—and I denied it. I thought she was still alive for a significant time after she was dead.
I used to pray for her to get better, after she was dead. I would walk eight blocks to the theater every Saturday with my friends. A Mediterranean-themed palace with lighthouses and twinkling stars on the ceiling.
Red velvet all over the joint. I remember the colors were richer than I had seen before. I remember being taken to a drive-in to see A Streetcar Named Desire. I remember being in the back seat and hearing people on the screen yell and scream. The movies, there was something potent there. Admission was a quarter and I was given two quarters so I could buy my refreshments. That was the first time in my life I was really turned loose. I could choose my food. The movie with the strongest emotional pull of my youth—and it has to do with my psychological history—was Dumbo.
The separation from the mother was terrifying to me. It was like my whole ego was riding right on his trunk when he had to fly and believe in that mouse. I felt that I had big ears and I think most people feel that they have big ears stashed somewhere in their life.
For nine cents, you got a double feature, color cartoons, a newsreel, a serial, the coming attractions, the advertisements and, twice a year, Dan Dan the Yo-Yo Man came and had a yo-yo contest. You could win a Schwinn bicycle. I wanted to be a yo-yo professional. He died of lung cancer inwhen I was a freshman in college. He had been an electrician at the University of Illinois and my mother, who died three years ago, was a bookkeeper.
Two weeks before my father died, I won the Associated Press sportswriting contest for the state of Illinois. Because he knew that I won that, that award is really more important to me than the Pulitzer Prize. How different are movies today from when you were kids? When I went to movies as a teenager, we went to see what adults did.
Now adults go to the movies to see what teenagers do. People over the age of twenty-one hardly ever make love in the movies anymore. I loved that picture and have seen it ten times. What did it cost you at auction?
In terms of what I was prepared to pay, it was a bargain. But now, when you ask people who starred in those, nobody says Jack Nicholson. The dominant image of Nicholson for many people is the Joker and the Laker games. Here is a man who, to his everlasting credit, gave us a portrayal of a modern American man that was unique.
He made these pictures that really show an alienated modern guy in an exciting way. Roger, what are yours? And who are your three favorite actors and actresses? Herzog dedicated his film Encounters at the End of the World to Ebert, and Ebert responded with a heartfelt public letter of gratitude.
Ebert responded that "nobody would say such a thing to a bunch of white filmmakers: They do not have to represent 'their people'! He was opposed to the practice whereby theatres lower the intensity of their projector bulbs in order to extend the life of the bulb, arguing that this has little effect other than to make the film harder to see. Ebert wrote a further piece in response to Barker. He admitted that he barely played video games: He was a member of Alcoholics Anonymous and had written some blog entries on the subject.
Ebert in May A supporter of the Democratic Party Ebert publicly urged liberal filmmaker Michael Moore to give a politically charged acceptance speech at the Academy Awards: I am still awake at night, asking how? My choice is to not support abortion, except in cases of a clear-cut choice between the lives of the mother and child. A child conceived through incest or rape is innocent and deserves the right to be born.
I cannot believe in God.
Roger Ebert - Wikipedia
I refuse to call myself an atheist, however, because that indicates too great a certainty about the unknowable. They did not reply to this, and on Monday ordered the Thumbs removed from the show. This is not something I expected after an association of over 22 years. Any fan of Siskel and Ebert and the Movies can tell you that some of its best moments came when the critics were in serious disagreement about a movie. When we were in a group together, we were always intensely aware of one another.
Sometimes this took the form of camaraderie, sometimes shared opinions, sometimes hostility. But we were aware. If something happened that we both thought was funny but weren't supposed to, God help us if one caught the other's eye. We almost always thought the same things were funny. That may be the best sign of intellectual communion. We were linked in a bond beyond all disputing. But if we were teamed up against a common target, we were fatal.