Last August, I reported that Michael Phillips, the Chicago Tribune’s movie critic and the former theater critic for the defunct Dallas Times Herald, was taking over Gene Siskel’s old aisle seat in the movie-review show, At the Movies. He’s been trading shots with the NYTimes‘ A. O. Scott. They were a notable improvement over the smiley slickness of the previous two, Ben Lyons and Ben Mankiewicz, at least in terms of thoughtful considerations of new films.
But at the time, I wondered whether the the-movie-critics-on-TV format was a dying format. And the audience didn’t come back. Yesterday, after 24 years, Disney-ABC announced it was canceling the series. The last show is scheduled to air Aug. 14.
Roger Ebert, who co-created the show with Siskel, attributed its demise to the changing economics and demographics of TV. But he’s also going ahead with his own plans for a new version.