URBANA — WILL-TV will air a new special, "Ebert Remembered," at 8 p.m. Thursday. It will highlight excerpts of WILL-TV interviews with Roger Ebert in which he talks about his childhood in Urbana, his experiences at the University of Illinois and his role as a movie critic.
Tom Guback, host of WILL-TV's "Silver Screen" movie show, interviewed Ebert in 1995 and asked him if he's too easy on movies. He admitted he might have been a half-star too high in his ratings.
"It's better for people to see a movie that might be bad rather than miss a movie that might be good," Ebert said.
The Urbana native and longtime critic for The Chicago Sun-Times died April 4. In the WILL program, he described what campus was like when he attended the UI in the 1960s.
He also talked about violence on TV and in the movies, and about the disappearance of the movie theater experience with the advent of home video.
"There is no substitute for light shining through celluloid on a screen with an audience in attendance," he said.
UI College of Media Dean Jan Slater will host the one-hour TV special, which also includes excerpts of an interview with Ebert by Pat Matzdorff, a host for the WILL-TV program "Critic's Choice."
Matzdorff interviewed Ebert just before the second Roger Ebert's Overlooked Film Festival in 2000. Excerpts from Ebert's 1997 interview with author Arthur C. Clarke, who wrote "2001: A Space Odyssey," will also be woven into the retrospective.
WILL-AM's "Focus 580" program at 10 a.m. Thursday also will pay tribute to Ebert's legacy and his influence on film, culture and our community. Guest host Jeff Bossert wants to hear your memories about Ebert and how his work affected your life. Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or post on the Focus Facebook page at Focus580.