Richard Roeper Blog

Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Richard Roeper Says Goodbye to the Navy Pier Ferris Wheel

Sunday, September 27th, 2015

Thanks for the ride.

Like an iconic Chicago athlete taking a victory lap at the end of a two-decade career, Navy Pier’s Ferris Wheel performed one last spin on Sunday night, while a full moon weaved and bobbed behind the clouds and the confetti and fireworks stood ready to dance in the sky the moment the last person exited Gondola #23.

That would be me. Coming full circle, so to speak.

When I boarded Navy Pier’s brand new Ferris wheel on a Thursday evening in June of 1995 and enjoyed a seven-minute spin that included breathtaking views of the Chicago skyline and Lake Michigan from some 150 feet in the air, I predicted that within 10 years, it would be “hard to remember what the lakefront was like when the Ferris wheel wasn’t a key part of the scene. It’ll be an institution.”

Since then, more than 10 million people have taken a ride in one of the 40 gondolas nestled within the spokes of the wheel, which glimmers and pops at night with more than 16,000 light bulbs.

A few weeks after the Wheel debuted, a couple got married in a gondola. There have been numerous marriage proposals. (And let’s be real here, probably one or two amorous adventures that extended beyond kissing.) Recently a company conducted job interviews on the Ferris Wheel. A deliberately weathered and ominous-looking Ferris Wheel was the centerpiece of the “Capture the Flag” scene in the hit movie “Divergent” (2014). Earlier this year, during the Stanley Cup Final, the gondola boxes were painted with the names and numbers of Chicago Blackhawks players.

Untold thousands of selfies and Insta-pics have been snapped aboard and around the Ferris wheel. When you’re flying home or visiting Chicago, or cruising Lake Shore Drive, or looking out the window of myriad apartments and businesses, you can’t avoid it. Whether you bemoan the Ferris wheel as a regrettable monstrosity of modern kitsch or it puts a smile on your face every time you see it, there’s no denying its prominence on the modern face of Chicago.

Screen Shot 2015-09-28 at 12.17.18 AM

On Sunday night, it was time to pull a reverse Neil Armstrong (because of course it’s not hyperbole to compare an amusement park experience to walking on the moon). Over the weekend, an estimated 30,000 took free rides on the wheel; at one point on Saturday night, there was a four-hour wait. We always want to give one last embrace to a familiar part of our lives when we know it’s going away forever.

Screen Shot 2015-09-27 at 11.08.38 PMTwenty years and change since I was the first journalist to ride the Ferris wheel, I was the final human to “deboard” the wheel, which will be dismantled and replaced by new, taller ride on Memorial Day of next year, in time for the Pier’s 2016 centennial.

Boarding the gondola on a warm, almost sticky early autumn night, I was reminded of what it was like to take a ride on the wheel more than 20 years ago. The first view of Lake Michigan and the skyline from the high point of the ride; the slight sway to the gondola in the wind; the feeling you could reach out and almost touch the buildings along Lake Shore Drive.

The city’s physical profile as viewed from the Ferris Wheel has changed quite a bit since 1995. So many more residential buildings. New hotels. Old hotels with new names. Chicago is a living thing, never sitting stagnant for 20 days, let alone 20 years.

The 1995-2015 Ferris wheel was never the biggest in the world. The 394-ft. London Eye and the 550-foot High Roller that opened in Las Vegas last year would dwarf our wheel. (Even the original Ferris wheel, built for the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago, was 68 feet taller than the ’95 wheel.)

The new Ferris wheel will cost $26.5 million. (Public funds will not be used.) It will feature blue, temperature-controlled gondolas with padded seats and TV monitors, and it will crest at nearly 200 feet.

Two decades ago, the Ferris Wheel was the centerpiece of major renovation of Navy Pier. Now the Pier is undergoing another transformation, reportedly morphing from a bustling tourist attraction with far too many borderline tacky features to more sublime, classical integration into the lakefront personality. We’ll see how the giant spinning wheel plays into all of that.

And I’ll still tell the young and the newly visiting the big Ferris Wheel on Navy Pier was of course named after “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.”

Because it’s a Ferris Wheel, after all, and it’s all in good fun.

Screen Shot 2015-09-27 at 11.10.05 PM








First “Bare” Trailer Starring Dianna Agron is Released

Friday, September 25th, 2015


Richard Roeper Goes Backstage at “Modern Family”

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2015

LOS ANGELES — It’s lunchtime for all three branches of “Modern Family.”

Chattering happily and casually, they file into an obelisk-shaped room, carrying their paper plates of salads and healthful-looking side dishes, and they take their seats at a long, long table.

Alex and Haley Dunphy sit side by side, as do Phil and Claire, Cameron and Mitchell, and Jay and Gloria. (The younger kids — Manny and Luke, Lily and Joe — aren’t here today.)

They work on their lunches — and they get to work.

Scripts are opened, eyeglasses are put on, and the story unwinds. Soon the room is rolling with laughter as Gloria gives Jay the business about a certain personality shortcoming, and Alex and Haley bond over each other’s romantic follies, and Cam and Mitch banter as only those two can.

Last Wednesday, one week before the Season Seven premiere (8 p.m. Wednesday, WLS-Channel 7) of ABC’s groundbreaking and five-time Emmy-winning “Modern Family” (which lost out on a chance for a record sixth-straight best comedy win to “Veep” on Sunday), I visited the “Modern Family” set, watched a full table read of a work-in-progress episode and sat in on a taping of a scene in another upcoming show.

Sarah Hyland and Ariel Winter on "Modern Family." | ABC

While edgier fare such as “Louie,” “Veep” and “Girls” have stolen a bit of the thunder from “Modern Family” in the last couple of years, let’s remember how groundbreaking this show was when it debuted in 2009 — and how strong the writing and acting remain after some 144 episodes.

I believe it’s one of the Top 10 half-hour comedy series of all-time.

Joining Ariel Winter and Sarah Hyland, Ty Burrell and Julie Bowen, Eric Stonestreet and Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Ed O’Neill and Sofia Vergara for the table read is an iconic comedic actress who will be guest-starring on this particular episode. She is introduced to enthusiastic applause, and the table read begins.

Even in this relatively early stage of the creative process, the writing is so sharp and the actors are so comfortable with their characters, it’s easy to envision the episode that will eventually air. All the cast members are engaged and generous with their attention, even when they’re not involved in a particular scene.

After the table read, I’m given a tour of the “Modern Family” sets.

Eric Stonestreet, Aubrey Anderson-Emmons and Jesse Tyler Ferguson on this week's "Modern Family" season premiere. | ABC

In the real world (and in some exterior shots on the show), the home that serves as the Dunphys’ is on Dunleer Drive in Los Angeles; Cam and Mitch’s duplex is in Century City, and the Pritchetts’ place is in Brentwood.

Of course, that’s not how it works when it comes to cranking out a TV show.

The magic must be consolidated.

So on Stage 5 on the Fox Studios lot — an enormous building that has housed everything from segments of “The Grapes of Wrath” to “L.A. Law” — the Dunphys’ living room and Lily’s bedroom and Alex’s dorm room and Luke’s bedroom and the Pritchetts’ entranceway and Mitchell and Cam’s living room are all connected.

(Surprisingly, though, the staircase in the Dunphy house set doesn’t lead to nowhere, as would be the case with most TV shows and sets. The bedrooms are literally upstairs.)

Every photograph on every wall, every knick-knack tucked into a corner of a kitchen or dining room, every poster on every kid’s bedroom wall, every award is specific and true to the history of the show.

Sofia Vergara, Rico Rodriguez and Ed O'Neill on the Sept. 30 episode of "Modern Family." | ABC

The lighting and background set detail (and post-production editing) on “Modern Family” are among the most creative and ambitious ever seen on a sitcom. Think about your favorite comedies, from “Cheers” to “Friends” to “Frasier” to “Seinfeld,” and how the primary sets have few windows — or static background images. That makes it so much easier to light and to maintain a consistent look. On “Modern Family,” nearly every episode includes multiple daytime scenes with open windows in the background. Morning feels like morning.

This afternoon’s shoot is taking place at the “Pritchett house.” Gloria answers the door, Mitch and Cam enter, there’s a bit of byplay among the three of them about a previous plot thread and then Mitch and Jay have a scene together.

It’s more of a setup situation than a payoff — but as the cast goes through one, two, three, four, five takes, subtle shifts are made, line readings change, and it gets better each time.


IMG_8163 IMG_8168

FOX :45 Awards with Richard Roeper

Sunday, September 20th, 2015

Richard Roeper joins FOX NFL Sunday to give the Washington Redskins a special award.

Richard Roeper Reviews “A Walk in the Woods”

Thursday, September 3rd, 2015

Horror Film Director Wes Craven Dies at 76

Sunday, August 30th, 2015
Wes Craven (pictured in October 2010)|Matt Sayles/AP file photo

Wes Craven (pictured in October 2010)|Matt Sayles/AP file photo

You’re terrified. You try to scream, but no sound comes out. It feels like you might be in a dream, but maybe not—maybe it’s real. Why won’t anyone help you!

And then you wake up, and now you KNOW it was just a dream—but it’s still the middle of the night, and you really don’t want to go back to sleep, because you’re afraid that same terrible dream might be waiting there for you.

Wes Craven tapped into that nearly universal experience and so many other hot-button fears when he wrote and directed “A Nightmare On Elm Street” (1984) a low-budget, mind-bending, supernatural horror film that became a box office smash, spawned a seemingly endless and bloody parade of sequels and spinoffs, and greatly influenced future generations of scary movies.

Craven, 76, died Sunday at his home in Los Angeles after a battle with brain cancer.

In addition to the “Elm Street” franchise, Craven was the prime creative force and/or the co-creator behind such iconic, scare-the-bleep-out-of-you films as “The Hills Have Eyes,” “The Last House on the Left,” “The People Under the Stairs” and the “Scream” series, which managed to smartly and respectfully satirize the horror genre while also providing some legit and gruesomely effective ‘gotcha’ twists and turns.

Yes, Craven was a master of horror and he’ll always be best known for creating movies that have scared multiple generations—but his contributions to the popular culture were myriad.

Craven had an eye for talent. As the Hollywood Reporter noted, Craven “discovered Johnny Depp” while casting the original “Nightmare,” he cast Sharon Stone in her first starring role in the 1981 film “Deadly Blessing,” and “he gave Bruce Willis his featured role in an episode of the 1980s version of ‘The Twilight Zone.’ ”

In 1999, Craven directed “Music of the Heart,” with Meryl Streep in an Academy Award-nominated role based on the true story of a violinist who created a music program in a high school in East Harlem.

Roger Ebert’s three-star review noted, “[Craven] might seem like a strange choice for the material. Not at all. He is in fact a cultured man who broke into movies doing horror…[but] this movie shows he can get Meryl Streep to Carnegie Hall just as easily as a phantom to the opera.”

Craven published a cloning-theme thriller, Fountain Society, in 1999. In the brilliant anthology film “Paris Je T’aime” (2006), in which 22 directors directed short segments set in various districts in Paris, Craven helmed “Pere-Lachaise,” with Emily Mortimer as a woman who ends things with her fiancé, who then turns to the ghost of Oscar Wilde for advice.

And how about this: Craven earned his undergraduate degree in English and Psychology at Wheaton College. Who knew! (Craven went on to get his Master’s from Johns Hopkins University. He was a teacher for a short while before getting into the movie business, reportedly working under various pseudonyms in the adult film business.)

For all of Craven’s contributions, from the fantastically twisted to his more erudite work, there’s little doubt his most enduring character is Freddy Krueger, who routinely shows up near the very top of the list of the most memorable horror villains of all time.

He’ll see you in your dreams.

Richard Roeper Reviews “Hitman: Agent 47″ & “American Ultra”

Monday, August 24th, 2015

Richard Roeper Defends Amy Poehler in R. Kelly Joke Controversy

Wednesday, August 19th, 2015

Richard Roeper “Pixels” Review

Thursday, August 13th, 2015

Richard Roeper “Paper Towns” Review

Thursday, August 13th, 2015

©2015 Richard Roeper. All Right Reserved
Powered by
Web site design and development by