News Local/State

Sculptor: Ebert Statue In ‘Home Stretch’


A year after Roger Ebert’s death, those behind a memorial sculpture will make sure those at his annual film fest still get a chance to see him 'at the movies.'

Bloomington Artist Rick Harney says the project announced last fall is in the ‘home stretch’ – and should be outside Champaign’s Virginia Theater in time for the 16th annual Ebertfest late this month.

He said completion of the bronze statue – showing Ebert in the middle of three theater seats, giving the trademark ‘thumbs up’  letting fans sit and pose with him, is now in pieces, 35 total, that will be welded together.

“If you ever put a plastic model together as a kid – with glue – it’s like that," he said.  "You’ve got a box full of stuff, and you’ve got to figure out how to make it look like one thing.  And that's the stage where they're at right now."

Harney said attaching those parts isn't easy, since welding leaves a ‘bead’  or a streak that looks like a line of caulk that has to be mechanically removed with power tools. 

Champaign Attorney Scott Anderson, who spearheaded the fundraising, said about $25-thousand is yet needed to finish the $125-thousand project.

But he’s not worried about getting the sculpture done time for the film festival, saying those ‘with the most interest in having this accomplished will be there’. 

Anderson expects the statue to be unveiled on April 24th, the second day of Ebertfest. 

Famed Urbana native, longtime film critic, and University of Illinois graduate Roger Ebert passed a year ago Friday at the age of 70.