It’s been announced that Ben Lyons and Ben Mankiewicz, who took over for Ebert & Roeper once they left the “At The Movies” program on ABC have been given their notices. As someone who grew up watching Siskel & Ebert and regularly watched Ebert & Roeper I’m glad to see Ben Lyons and Ben Mankiewicz go. The two Bens had tough shoes to fill no doubt when Richard Roeper announced last year that he would be leaving the show since ABC didn’t want to pony up the cash to keep him on board. Immediately after, Ebert quit despite him not appearing on the program in some time.

Part of the magic that was Ebert & Roeper as well as Siskel & Ebert before it was that the men commanded some respect. They appeared credible, even if often times they weren’t. At times Siskel and Ebert were both sort of snobbish jerks, but through the years I’ve really come to respect Ebert’s reviewing style. It’s something I try to use here on the site. Which is a basic philosophy that every movie (or toy, etc) is graded not against every other movie out there, but against itself. That’s not to say you can’t make comparisons or even directly contrast it with something else, but that nothing HAS to be compared.

I remember back in 6th grade doing a parody of Siskel & Ebert with my best friend Matt in which we made fun of both guys pretty heavily. As I recall it was for a pair book reviews and both of us made custom fat suits, eaching being “Ebert” in one another’s book review while the other played Siskel. Even then I had a deep appreciation for the art of the review, despite performing a parody on it.

When Gene Siskel died it seemed to me that the show couldn’t continue to prosper, but in my humble opinion Richard Roeper not only replaced him but did a better job. He seemed to revitalize the show, giving even Roger Ebert a new outlook on things. I was sad to hear about all of Ebert’s troubles in recent years tha eventually took him off the show. Ebert even lost his use of speech, but continues to write insightful reviews on his website.

Ben Lyons and Ben Mankiewicz just didn’t have the flare. In fact, they were largely flat out terrible. I’m pleased to hear that Michael Phillips of The Chicago Tribune will be one of the new anchors. Phillips spent the majority of the last run of Ebert & Roeper filling in for Ebert and he’s an entertaining reviewer. Of course ideally I’d like to see Roeper and Phillips, but I guess that’s not in the cards.

Speaking of Richard Roeper, if you aren’t reading his blog, you should be. He has some of the smartest things to say about, well… Everything. I also follow his Twitter. Good riddance Bens and hello to the new crew. Maybe “At The Movies” can survive after all.

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