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No doubt you've all heard the news by now of the passing of veteran Chicago Sun-Times film critic Roger Ebert yesterday, at the age of 70, due to a return of the cancer he'd been fighting for many years. I had a whole regular news post prepared to go up this morning, but somehow it just didn't seem appropriate anymore.
I think lot of us today - certainly many of us here at The Bits and I'm sure at other movie and DVD/Blu-ray news sites around the Net too - have been a little surprised by how hard the news has hit us, but it makes perfect sense when you think about it. So many of us who write about film and videodiscs online have fond memories of meeting Roger in person at film festivals and screenings or talking about our favorite movies and filmmakers with him via e-mail. What a thrill it was to discover that Ebert had Tweeted a link to a post you'd written or mentioned it on his blog! Somewhere in my digital archives are a goodly series of e-mails we shared during two videodisc format wars discussing the future of the medium we both cared about so deeply. When I first learned back in 1998 or 99 that Roger was a Bits reader... well, I'll tell you, I felt like I'd finally arrived. If your thoughts about film mattered to Roger, then they mattered period. I know that many others out there in the online film and videodisc community have felt similarly honored by him over the years.
Roger Ebert was someone who spent his whole life sharing his passion for cinema with others, and that made him one of us - family in real and important way. Plus he wrote a Russ Meyer film, dammit, and that made him cool. So I'll simply close today's post, which we dedicate to his life and memory, by saying this:
Thank you, Roger. Thumbs up, from all of us!
- Bill Hunt