WILL Pages

Roger Ebert Remembered


by David Thiel

Urbana native and Chicago Sun-Times film critic Roger Ebert became part of the WILL family on October 6, 1979 when Sneak Previews joined our Saturday afternoon TV schedule. That show grew out of a Chicago-based series called Opening Soon at a Theater Near You, which in 1975 paired Ebert with his long-time frenemy, Tribune critic Gene Siskel. The two sparring partners stayed with Sneak Previews for only a few years before moving to commercial television, but Ebert returned to the fold in 2011 for a brief revival called At the Movies.

Of course, Roger Ebert never really left Champaign-Urbana. He made frequent visits, and eventually established the “Overlooked Film Festival,” colloquially known as “Ebertfest,” at the Virginia Theater in Champaign.  He was interviewed on WILL radio and television a number of times over the years, and we’ve collected those appearances here.


Ebert Remembered, from WILL-TV on April 18, 2013

Jan Slater Dean of the College of Media at the University of Illinois hosts a retrospective of previously broadcast interviews with the late Roger Ebert on WILL-TV.

From Illinois Public Radio News:

April 5, 2013 - Chicago film critics share their stories about Roger Ebert, his generosity, and his impact, produced by Chris Berube from WILL Radio. See the full story here.

From WILL's Focus program:

April 18, 2013 - Roger Ebert will be remembered as one of the greatest film critics of all time. His mark on the cinema, our culture and our community are undeniable. This hour on Focus, guest host Jeff Bossert talks with Chicgao Tribune film critic Michael Phillips. Phillips filled in for Roger on "At the Movies" when he first became ill and later took over the show. We also heard from several members of the Champaign-Urbana community and a long-time Ebertfest volunteer.

April 28, 2000 - Pulitzer-Prize winning film critic Roger Ebert and director Paul Cox talk with David Inge in 2000 about the second annual Overlooked Film Festival (now Ebertfest) in Champaign. See the program archive page.

March 14, 1997 - Focus host David Inge talks with Roger Ebert about Cyberfest, a conference at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications celebrating the birthday of the HAL 9000 computer and Arthur C. Clark's film 2001: A Space Odyssey. See the program archive page.

From WILL's Keepin' the Faith:

April 18,1999 - Host Steve Shoemaker interviews Roger Ebert on the occasion of the first Overlooked Film Festival in Champaign-Urbana. See the program archive page.

From WILL's Media Matters program:

April 13, 2003 - Bob McChesney talks with Roger Ebert about the films in the upcoming Overlooked Film Festival in Champaign-Urbana. See the program archive page

Roger Ebert Interview with WILL-TV

April 28, 2006 - Roger Ebert, interviewed by WILL-TV producer Steve Drake, discusses the importance of his education at the University of Illinois College of Media, and his career in journalism starting in Champaign-Urbana and later as film critic at the Chicago Sun-Times.


Critic's Choice with Roger Ebert on WILL-TV

April 2000 - Pat Matzdorff on WILL-TV interviews Roger Ebert on the occasion of the 2nd annual Overlooked Film Festival in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois. Roger Ebert, a graduate of the University of Illinois College of Media, founded the film festival, later renamed Ebertfest.

Roger Ebert Interviews Arthur C. Clarke at NCSA's Cyberfest

March 1997 - Roger Ebert interviewed author Arthur C. Clarke, who wrote "2001: A Space Odyssey." The interview was featured at "Cyberfest ‘97,” a gala celebration at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. In "2001: A Space Odyssey," the evil computer "HAL" is said to have been born in Urbana in 1997. The gala event marked HAL's fictitious birth, and celebrated the U of I's contributions to the revolution and evolution of computing

November 7, 1995 - One of One with Roger Ebert, broadcast on WILL-TV

In this interview, Roger Ebert discusses his career as a film critic with WILL-TV host Thomas Guback. Mr. Ebert describes the importance of his education and experience at the University of Illinois College of Media, his work at The Daily Illini, the importance of preserving local theatres, and a wide range issues in film, criticism, art, and journalism.

Roger Ebert on WILL-TV in 1995 from Illinois Public Media on Vimeo.

Ebertfest Panel, April 28, 2006

In this except from a panel discussion at the Roger Ebert Overlooked Film Festival, Roger Ebert talks films with actor John Malkovich and director Russ Smith.


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