Roger Ebert might be in a particularly good mood during his 13th annual Ebertfest, starting Wednesday at the Virginia Theatre in Champaign.
The famed movie critic finally saw one of his cartoon captions win The New Yorker magazine’s cartoon caption contest. And the cable network TCM will broadcast a few past Ebertfest films on Monday as "A Salute to Ebertfest."
First, Ebert as a funny man. He wrote about his New Yorker cartoon-caption writing in his blog (http://bit.ly/gO7jlx) and in turn, Bob Mankoff of The New Yorker wrote about Ebert’s captions in his online From My Desk.
Mankoff gave the critic his signature two thumbs up for all the captions he’s entered over the years, or should we say weeks.
But, "Roger was being a bit hyperbolic when he claimed to have entered practically all of the contests since its inception," Mankoff wrote. "Out of a possible 280 contests leading up to his win in No. 281, the Bureau of Cartoon Caption Contest Statistics reports that he entered only 107, which puts him in 569th place out of 502,416 unique entrants, who have submitted a total of 1,595,506 captions."
You may read Mankoff’s blog at http://nyr.kr/ftRfIs. In it he posted some of Ebert’s caption entries and the cartoons, including a great one that "did not get past the Caption Contest Board of Censors."
At my home in Urbana, my TV is tuned into TCM almost all the time. It’s about the only cable channel without annoying commercial interruptions.
But the real reason I love it: all the classic movies it broadcasts. On Easter Sunday I watched the TCM broadcast of "Jesus Christ Superstar," directed by Ebertfest 2011 guest Norman Jewison, whom I interviewed by telephone last week.
On May 2, the day after Ebertfest 2011 ends, TCM in its "A Salute to Ebertfest" will spotlight movies that the Grand Poobah feels have been underappreciated by the public or by film distributors. Remember the word "Overlooked' once was part of his film festival title.
"Four films on Ebert’s list of overlooked gems are showing in their TCM premieres," according to the TCM website. "‘Gates of Heaven’ (1978), a documentary by Errol Morris about the pet cemetery business, was described by Ebert as an ‘underground legend’ and named by him as one of the top 10 films of all time."
The other TCM premieres of Ebertfest movies are Australian director Paul Cox’s "Innocence" (2000), Jeff Nichols’ "Shotgun Stories" (2007) and "Trouble the Water" (2008), an Oscar-nominated documentary about Hurricane Katrina by Urbana native Carl Deal and his film/life partner, Tia Lessin. TCM also will show Jacques Tati’s "Monsieur Hulot" comedy "Playtime." (1967).
Way to go, Roger!