Roger Ebert, who has never been a more prolific writer in his life than after cancer cost him his jaw, as well as his ability to eat and speak naturally, will be taking a “leave of presence” due to a recurrence of cancer. Ebert, who wrote over 300 reviews last year, in addition to once or twice weekly blog posts, will be handing off some of his responsibilities on Ebert Digital (the relaunched RogerEbert.com) to others, slowing his reviewing responsibilities for the Chicago Sun Times, and dealing with his illness, of which he intends to blog about.
The immediate reason for my “leave of presence” is my health. The “painful fracture” that made it difficult for me to walk has recently been revealed to be a cancer. It is being treated with radiation, which has made it impossible for me to attend as many movies as I used to. I have been watching more of them on screener copies that the studios have been kind enough to send to me. My friend and colleague Richard Roeper and other critics have stepped up and kept the newspaper and website current with reviews of all the major releases. So we have and will continue to go on.
At this point in my life, in addition to writing about movies, I may write about what it’s like to cope with health challenges and the limitations they can force upon you. It really stinks that the cancer has returned and that I have spent too many days in the hospital. So on bad days I may write about the vulnerability that accompanies illness. On good days, I may wax ecstatic about a movie so good it transports me beyond illness.
Jesus, this guy has been through the wringer. At 70 years old, facing another battle with cancer, you just have to respect the hell out of the guy for continuing at all to write, to watch movies, and run a business. Best of luck to Mr. Ebert and hopefully to a very speed recovery.