Many of you may have heard of the new weekly television series “Ebert Presents At the Movies,” hosted by critics Christy Lemire and Ignatiy Vishnevetsky and co-produced by Roger Ebert, who will present a regular segment on the show. It will be produced at Chicago’s WTTW, where Ebert and the late Gene Siskel began “Sneak Previews” 35 years ago. A lot of us grew up watching Siskel and Ebert debating the movies, and interest in the new show is high — it’s already scheduled to debut on public television on January 21 in 48 of the 50 top markets, nationwide.
But we’ll look for it in vain in the Pacific Northwest, at least for now. Last week, on Ebert’s blog, a Seattle viewer noted in a comment that he had approached local public station KCTS 9 to ask about the show, and received the following response:
KCTS 9 has decided to pass on airing this program for 2 reasons. First, we are working very hard to meet our pledge quotas. In order to do this we have had to pre-empt much of our regular programming. To bring this new program to KCTS 9 and then pre-empt it would not do the program justice nor would it serve our viewers with time sensitive reviews about movies currently in theaters. Second, we think the kind of information it would present viewers is already available from many sources online on a 24/7 basis.
Jason Pagano, media relations specialist for KCTS, confirmed today that the response came from head of programming Randy Brinson, who sent me the following statement this morning:
“At this time we’re not planning to air ‘Ebert Presents At the Movies,’ but that doesn’t mean it would never appear on KCTS 9. We’ll keep an eye on the show as we evaluate potential future changes to our schedule – we’ve reconsidered before. As always, I’d be happy to hear from viewers as we go forward.”
Those interested in giving KCTS some feedback on the decision can write to Brinson’s attention at email@example.com. Stay tuned; I’ll update when I hear more.
Update: I spoke to Brinson in the late afternoon; you can read that blog entry here.