Saturday, February 27, 2010

This Week on Oprah: It's A Thumbs Up For Roger Ebert

(Photo: Ethan Hill © Esquire Magazine/Hearst Publications)

As we say good-bye to the month of February – it’s time to adjust the rabbit ears and our digital tuner boxes for a look at the world of television in this edition of “Frost Bites” (or should it be ‘bytes’ since we are being digitally correct).

Roger Ebert has been writing about and reviewing movies for the last thirty years for the Chicago Sun-Times – but he’s probably better known for his thumbs up and thumbs down reviews on the nationally televised “At The Movies” movie review show that he hosted with the late Gene Siskel.

In 2002, Ebert was diagnosed with thyroid cancer and over the last eight years he has gone through more surgeries than even he can remember. Because of all of the surgeries that he has gone through in the last four year, Roger Ebert can no longer speak, eat or drink and his lower jaw has been surgically removed. After all of that you might think that Roger Ebert would want to give up on life, but you'd be wrong. As a matter of fact, it's because of all that he's gone through that has a better appreciation of life and is living life to its fullest; and although we don't see him on TV anymore, he continues to shares his thoughts about movies in his reviews and life in general on a blog he writes for the Chicago Sun-Times.

The current issue of Esquire with Leo DeCaprio on the cover features an excellent article about Roger Ebert by Chris Jones. You might be startled by the photo of Ebert, but you’ll be uplifted by his resilience against all odds. If you can’t find this month’s Esquire on your newsstand – click on to the following line and read the article online (which also includes a link to Ebert’s blog):

In the Esquire article, there is a mention of a Scottish software company named CereProc that is helping Ebert to “get his voice” back – in a digital way. CereProc has been cataloging the vast amount of vocal recordings of Ebert’s voice that are available for a software program that will allow his own voice to be heard when he types out messages on his computer keyboard. Get ready to set your DVRs, because Roger Ebert’s voice via CereProc – will be able to be heard for the first time in public on Oprah (4:00pm Tuesday, March 2 and repeated 1:05am Wednesday, March 3 on WXYZ-Channel 7, Detroit).

On the lighter side…..I don’t know about you, but TV hasn’t been the same for me since Denny….Denny Crane and his “Boston Legal” law firm was shut down by ABC nearly two years ago. I know that Denny’s alter ego, William Shatner, got a half-hour interview show on cable’s Biography channel, but that’s just not enough Shatner for all of us who miss his hi jinx with James Spader and their late night sleepovers. Well, I’ve got good news for you…according The Hollywood Reporter…CBS has given the ok for a new comedy pilot being produced by “Will and Grace” creators David Kohan and Max Mutchnick. Shatner will be playing a Dad who says some wacky things in this pilot with the working title of “Shit My Dad Says” (which it’s safe to assume will be changed if CBS picks up the show after the pilot is shot).

And for those folks who miss “Boston Legal” and don’t own the complete Boston Legal boxed DVD set – those folks at TVLand have picked up reruns of the show and have added them to their schedule. As they say in TVLand – check your local listings for time and channel number.

TVLand has also added the Ray Romano sitcom “Everyone Loves Raymond” to their schedule and TNT last week aired the season finale on Romano’s new critically acclaimed comedy/drama “Men of A Certain Age”. TNT has yet to announce whether or not that they are picking the show up for a new season – but it’s a safe bet that they will. In the meantime – should they re-run the show this spring – I urge you to watch it. I’m not going out on a limb when I say that “Men of A Certain Age” is probably the best show on television today. I predict that the writing alone will win awards for them at Emmy award time and if the actors aren’t awarded statues for their work on the show – then I would demand a recount.

If you’ve been watching the Winter Olympics coverage on NBC – you’ll probably well aware that Jay Leno will be returning to the Tonight Show this month after dropping a gigantic turd during his prime-time run. He’s lined up a couple of interesting guests for his first week back – that’s if you consider Sarah Palin to be interesting.

We haven’t heard a whole lot from Conan O’Brien – who some feel (including yours truly) that Leno screwed to get the Tonight Show. O’Brien – who many expect to have a new talk show on another network by year’s end – can do any interviews or any television shows until September because of an agreement that he worked out with NBC, but they didn’t say anything about Twitter.

Conan O’Brien is now on Twitter ( His Twitter bio reads: “I had a show. Then I had a different show. Now I have a Twitter account.”

And what is Conan tweeting?

Tweet #1: Today I interviewed a squirrel in my backyard and then threw to commercial. Somebody help me.

Tweet #2: This morning I watched Remington Steele while eating Sugar Smacks out of a salad bowl. I was naked.

And Tweet #3: Today I connected all the freckles on my arm with a Sharpie. It spells out RIKSHAZ9LIRK. Clearly I am The Chosen One.

That’s going to do it for this edition -- keep your TV set on and remember to live by the TV motto: By the glow of the cathode tube – there's better living through more channels.

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