Wrote the venerable critic: "Unless we find an angel, our television program will go off the air at the end of its current season. There. I've said it. Usually in television, people use evasive language. Not me. We'll be gone. I want to be honest about why this is. We can't afford to finance it any longer."
Featuring critics Christy Lemire and Ignatiy Vishnevetsky, 'At the Movies' debuted on PBS stations in January of this year and now appears in the top 50 markets. The ratings are strong, but it's the overhead that's a problem. Ebert and his wife Chaz, the show's executive producers, pay for 'At the Movies' out of their own pocket, and are now calling on support from viewers, as well as any corporations that want to underwrite a smart and well-informed film review show.
Wrote Ebert: "Chaz has been the heroine here. As executive producer, she did all the heavy lifting. When the first package of shows played, she told me we should stay on the air from autumn through December. 'It's a beautiful show,' she told me. 'Christy and Ignatiy have found their groove. We've paid for the backdrops and sets. It's the show we dreamed of. Let's give it one more chance.'
"We did. But now American Public Television wants to know if they can tell their member stations we'll be back in 2012. We have to give them our answer this month. Unless we find underwriting, I'm afraid our answer will have to be 'no.' Chaz says she still has a few more days to keep making calls."
Commenters on Ebert's blog are calling for a Kickstarter campaign. Let's hope that comes to fruition and keeps 'At the Movies' on air a little longer.