Richard Roeper Blog

Archive for January, 2012

Chicago’s Richard Roeper loves his (prolific) movie work

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012
Published: Sunday, Jan. 29, 2012 – 12:00 am | Page 15AANDE

Sometimes, Richard Roeper is at the movies. Much of the time, he’s writing – books, his Chicago Sun-Times column, movie reviews for his website – or co-hosting a daily radio show in Chicago.

On Wednesday, he will be at the Sacramento Community Center Theater to talk movies and the Academy Awards as part of the Sacramento Speakers Series.

Best-known nationally as half of the Ebert and Roeper TV reviewing team, Roeper, 52, has been a Chicago kind of guy for a lifetime. Raised in a suburb, he is a lifelong White Sox fan who wrote a 2006 book, “Sox and the City,” about his team. He has been a Sun-Times columnist for 25 years.

In 2000, he was chosen, after many other critics tried out, to join fellow Sun-Times writer Roger Ebert on the syndicated “At the Movies” show. Roeper replaced Gene Siskel, who died of brain tumor in 1999.

Roeper stayed with the show until 2008, a few years after Ebert left because of his battle with cancer and complications from surgery that left him unable to speak, though still able to write prodigiously.

Roeper still reviews films every week for and the Reelz channel. His four-times-a-week Sun-Times column takes on subjects ranging from the Golden Globes to Denver quarterback Tim Tebow to the Italian cruise-ship disaster. Roeper and co-host Roe Conn also discuss a broad range of topics on their four-hour daily WLS radio show, “Roe & Roeper.”

Roeper called last week from Chicago, in between filing his Sun-Times column and preparing for the radio show.

What topics will you cover when you come to Sacramento?

The evolution of movies. Not just in terms of special effects and things like that, but the marketing and the coverage of it. For example, in 1977, when “Star Wars” came out, it was 14 days before there was a story about the box office, and it was two paragraphs in the New York Times with a headline (like) “Sci-Fi Cowboy Movie Does Well.”

Nowadays, of course, leading into every weekend you get the box-office projections, and by Friday night at midnight, you know if a movie’s a bomb.

I want to talk about how all of that has changed and how the business has changed … and the difference in how movies are released.

“The Godfather” opened on five screens in New York, and had a long time to build, and to become this huge hit. These days, you are on 4,000 screens, and if you don’t perform, you’re gone in three weeks.

I also want to talk about the delivery systems and how there are more and more movies you can get on demand, on iTunes and on Netflix, and how that is going to affect the business. I don’t want to get too inside baseball in talking to a wide cross section, but I do want to talk about the business as well as the quality of films.

Will you talk about the Oscar nominations?

Yeah, it’s perfect timing (the Academy Awards are Feb. 26). That is actually kind of fascinating – the voting (a new process that resulted in nine best-picture nominees instead of 10). They have made it more convoluted this year. The voting makes the Iowa caucuses look streamlined and perfect. And I will make my predictions, so people can write them down and mock me later (laughs).

You have been a columnist for a long time, and your column and radio show cover a broad range of topics. How prominently have movies figured in your career?

Movies have always been a huge part of it, even though my column isn’t about movies per se, it is more about pop culture and news. But I have written probably a thousand columns about movies, and I have always been a huge movie fan.

It is interesting because nine times out of 10, when I see a reference to me, they call me the Chicago Sun-Times film critic. We actually have a film critic (laughs). It’s this fellow by the name of Roger, and he’s been doing it for a couple of years.

I do occasionally write reviews for the paper when Roger is off or doing something else. I have such admiration for Roger on so many levels, one of which is that he has devoted his whole career pretty much to movies, although he now writes about a lot of other things.

I think it’s better if a film critic does other things as well. I think if all you do is immerse yourself in the world of movies, sometimes you lose some sense of perspective about things. When film critics are talking to each other, it’s like, “Are you writing reviews for each other or the general audience?”

Roger Ebert seems to keep an eye on the broader picture.

Yes, especially in the last five years or so. He is writing a lot about other subjects.

Do you see him very often? Do you see him at movie screenings?

I do, I see him at screenings all the time, and obviously, we stay in touch, email and that kind of stuff.

When you started on “At the Movies,” did he give you advice on reviewing films?

Most of the advice wasn’t about reviewing movies. It was about how to do it within the context of the show – time constraints and things like that. The best thing he did for me, from the very start, was say, “Look, you are not my sidekick, you’re my co-host, and it has to be an equal 50-50 partnership or it won’t work.”

I think, honestly, that’s why I got the job. Because so many guest critics kind of acted like they were guests on a talk show, and they were more deferential, and I was more like, “No, you’ve got to mix it up.”

What’s it like to be well-known nationally but live in Chicago? It is different from living in New York or Los Angeles?

I think so. I grew up here, and I have been doing newspapers and radio and that kind of stuff for so long. Here, people just kind of feel like you are one of their own, and yeah, they’ll come up to you and say hello. They’re more likely in Chicago just to strike up a conversation. In New York or L.A., especially in L.A., people come up and they are more like, “Oh, I am a big fan,” or they are in the business, because everybody in L.A. is in the business or trying to be in the business (laughs). Here, if I am in a coffee shop or a local bar, people who come up are just as likely to want to talk about the Bulls or the Bears or Rahm Emanuel as they are about a movie.

The newspaper industry has faced a lot of challenges in recent years. You have experience in other media. Are you committed to remaining a newspaper columnist?

Yes, I would love to keep doing it for as long as they will have me do it. The column is my favorite thing to do every day. To get up in the morning and say, “What am I going to write about?” and then write about it. And of course, now you get to update it, because you can go back on the website.

Is it fun working for a newspaper in a city with such a rich journalistic history?

Yes. I had chances to go other places, fairly early in my career, and I never considered going anywhere, because it is home, and I feel most comfortable writing about what I know, but also, yeah, that great tradition. When I started at the Sun-Times, (Pulitzer Prize winning columnist Mike) Royko was still hanging out at the Billy Goat Tavern, and all these other columnists I had grown up with. It still feels that way. It’s great to be in a two-news- paper town.


When: 8 p.m. Wednesday

Where: Community Center Theater, 1301 L St., Sacramento

Cost: $120-$210, via a prorated subscription to the Roeper event and forthcoming talks by CBS News travel editor Peter Greenberg and television journalist and Sacramento native Lisa Ling

Information: (916) 388-1100,

© Copyright The Sacramento Bee. All rights reserved.

Howard Stern as TV ‘Talent’ judge? Parent group objects

Thursday, January 12th, 2012

What with the Kardashians and the sleazy dating shows and the teen mom programs and the real housewives and all the other schlock on TV these days, you’d think the Parents Television Council would just issue a statement proclaiming:


But they still pick and choose their targets, and to the surprise of no one, the PTC is appalled Howard Stern has been tapped to be a judge on “America’s Got Talent.”

Even before the news was confirmed, PTC president Tim Winter issued a statement howling, “If the rumors are true … the result will be the alienation of tens of millions of advertising dollars. Such a move smacks of desperation by the once-proud peacock network. Any short-term buzz from Stern’s shock value will result in a longer-term decline as families abandon the show for more suitable programming.”

So you didn’t much care when Jerry Springer was the host for two seasons of “America’s Got Talent,” but you’re in a lather over Stern joining the show?

Of course this protest is nonsense. Stern has always understood the difference between what he can get away with in his studio (especially during the Sirius/XM era) and how he can conduct himself on TV.

You know what Howard’s real problem might be? He’s too nice.

I speak from experience. A few years back, Howard and Robin Quivers and I were the judges for “The Howard Stern Film Festival,” at which the finalists showed their movies in front of a live audience in New York City. At one point Stern told me he was having a hard time saying anything negative about any of the young contestants showcasing their work. He didn’t want to discourage them or bruise their feelings.

Wouldn’t it be hilarious if Howard Stern ends up getting criticized for being too soft on “AGT”?

Rise Against Bogus Tweets

Just last month, “X Factor” judge and former Pussycat Doll Nicole Scherzinger experienced a teary meltdown after she failed to “save” a teenager contestant. Judging by the video of Scherzinger weeping and carrying on, you would have thought she had failed to save the girl from a shark and not from elimination on a talent show.

Recapping: Scherzinger refused to choose between 13-year-old Rachel Crow and Marcus Canty. This left Crow vulnerable to an audience vote, and she was eliminated. Oh, the humanity.

Said Scherzinger: “I [didn’t] want to send anyone home. … I wasn’t going to make the decision. I just couldn’t make the decision, so I left it up to America to vote.”

Very sweet — except for the fact Scherzinger is, you know, a JUDGE on the show. Indecisiveness is not a good trait for a judge, whether it’s a pretend judge on TV or a real judge. Imagine Judge Zagel at the Blagojevich trail, ruling on an objection: “Well gee, defense counsel has a point, but I kinda want to see where all this is going. I’m going to sustain the objection AND let the witness answer the question!”

On Wednesday morning, it seemed as if Scherzinger had suddenly become very decisive. To her more than 1.1 million Twitter followers, she proclaimed: “For the first time ever a politician isn’t lying to us. WAKE UP AMERICA! Ron Paul 2012  I Love This Guy #RonPaulRevolution”

Wait a minute, NOW she has an opinion?

But hold on, stop the clock. Now we’re hearing the Twitter accounts of No Doubt, Scherzinger and Chicago’s own punk rockers Rise Against were hacked. The Tweets were deleted and Rise Against later Tweeted: “As you would all assume, we DO NOT support Ron Paul.”

I have to admit until a few hours ago, I absolutely no assumptions either way about how Rise Against would feel about the candidate.

But it sure would have been fun to see them performing at Ron Paul 2012 rally.

Add Jay-Z and Beyonce’s ‘Blue Ivy’ to list of head-scratching celebrity baby names

Tuesday, January 10th, 2012

As I’m sure you’ve heard by now, Beyonce and Jay-Z have welcomed a baby girl, who was born last Saturday night in New York.

And how refreshing is it that these two superstars gave their child the very old-fashioned, traditional name of Ann Marie! Maybe it’s the start of a new trend.

Just kidding. The baby’s real name is Blue Ivy, which sounds like a rash you can pick up while hiking in South America or the offspring of a Batman villain who’s out to seek revenge.

People magazine says there’s speculation the couple came up with the middle name of “Ivy” as a derivation of the Roman numeral “IV,” because of the significance of the number four in their lives.

As in, “We’re four times richer than just about everyone else in the world!”

(Actually, Beyonce’s birthday is Sept. 4, Jay-Z’s is Dec. 4, and they were married on 4/4/08. And Jay-Z has an album titled “Blueprint,” which may or may not explain the first name.)

“Welcome to the world Blue!” Tweeted Gwyneth Paltrow, who has a child named Apple.

“Congrats to Jay and B! And many more!” Tweeted Sean Combs, aka Diddy, Puff Daddy, etc., etc.

Diddy has five children, including D’Lila Star Combs, Jessie James Combs and Chance Combs.

We’ve spoken numerous times over the last two decades about this trend — which by now is a tradition — of celebrities giving their children unusual names. Rumer Willis turned 21 last year. Her sibling Scout is 20, and Tallulah Belle will be 18 next month.

I continue to maintain that if you call your kid Apple, Moroccan, Bear Blu, Zuzu, that’s more about the parents calling attention to how clever and artistic they are than  about envisioning their offspring dealing with that name for the rest of their lives. Actor Rob Morrow named his child “Tu,” as in “Tu Morrow.”

Never pass up the opportunity to turn your child’s name into a wince-inducing pun, eh?

(Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

What’s in a name?

I’ve long talked about these kids going to school and having to spell and/or explain their names to their teachers. Getting teased on the playground. Dealing with a lifetime of talking about their names every time they’re introduced to someone new. Imagine having to tell the story of your first name for the 784th time and thinking, “I hate you for doing this to me, Mom.”

But if every other kid on the playground has a “unique” name, if half the people you meet on your life’s journey don’t have traditional first names, the avant garde becomes the norm. Who’s going to make fun of Blue Ivy — Nicolas Cage’s son Kal-El? Jason Lee’s kid Pilot Inspektor? Ocean Whitaker, Rocket Rodriguez, Audio Science Sossamon, Moxie Crimefighter Jillette?

(Not that any of these celeb kids have anything on one Beezow Doo-Doo Zopittybop-Bop-Bop, who was arrested last Sunday in Madison, Wis., and charged with a number of offenses that allegedly violated his bail conditions. But Mr. Zoppittybop-Bop-Bop can’t blame his moniker on his parents, as he’s the one who legally changed his name from Jeffrey Drew Wilschke last October. Imagine that thought process, so to speak: “This will be just the change I need to turn my life around!”)

And it’s not just celebs who give their children unique names. Everybody knows somebody who gave their kid a name that made you laugh or shake your head or say, “Wait a minute, what?”

If you’ve got a story about someone you know who gave their child a unique name, I’d love to hear it.

In the meantime, consider this. Jermaine Jackson named his kid Jermajesty. Epic!

Which is probably also some kid’s name.

Gloomy winter forecast looking silly

Tuesday, January 10th, 2012

Didn’t see a man who danced with his wife in Chicago over the weekend, but I did see a man and a couple of women who ran in their shorts.

In January.

From the Sun-Times of Oct. 5, 2011: “Enjoy the nice weather while you can. Winter’s going to clobber Chicago again, hitting us with colder than normal temperatures and nearly twice the normal amount of snowfall. That’s according to long-range forecasters at”


“AccuWeather forecasts 50 to 58 inches of snow for Chicago . . . snowfall during a normal winter is 30.2 inches. And temperatures will be 2 to 3 degrees below normal.”

Long-range meteorologist Josh Nagelberg said, “People in Chicago are going to want to move after this winter.”

Revised report: If you wanted to get your car washed last Saturday, the line formed way back there. If you wanted to take down the Christmas decorations, you could have done so in a light jacket without having to dash inside for hot chocolate breaks. I saw a guy driving his convertible with the top down Sunday on Dearborn Street.

We’re supposed to reach a high of 52 on Tuesday. There have been Opening Days at Wrigley and U.S. Cellular Field when the fans would have poured out a full beer in exchange for that kind of warmth.

Of course, there’s still a whole lot of winter to come, and we may yet get hit with some paralyzing snowfalls and some freeze-your-face cold. But still. If the 2012 political forecasters were as far off as the 2012 weather experts were, Jon Huntsman would be taking a victory lap by now.

The Newt and nothing but the Newt

Regardless of how you feel about Newt Gingrich’s politics, his blunt style is a welcome respite from the usual tap-dancing.

Last week on “The Early Show” on CBS, Norah O’Donnell said to Gingrich, “You said of Mitt Romney, ‘Someone who will lie to you to get to be president will lie to you when they get to be president.’ I have to ask you, are you calling Mitt Romney a liar?”

At this point, many a candidate would hedge and start talking in generalities.

What Newt said: “Yes.”

O’Donnell: “You’re calling Mitt Romney a liar?”

Gingrich: “Well, you seem shocked by it.”

CBS’ Bob Schieffer and O’Donnell seemed stunned when Gingrich said he would still support Mitt in a run against Barack Obama.

Why would that be surprising? This happens every primary. The candidates tear each other apart — and then the also-rans join the winner onstage at the convention and on the campaign trail, talking about how great he’d be for the country. Of course Gingrich would support a Republican candidate, even one he called a liar, in the general election. That’s how it works.

Inside out

At the Republican debate in New Hampshire on Sunday, Gingrich again called out Romney after the Mittster said, “I happen to believe that if we want to replace a lifetime politician like Barack Obama . . . we’ve got to choose someone who is not a lifetime politician, who has not spent his entire career in Washington.”

Gingrich: “Can we drop a little bit of the pious baloney? You were running for president while you were governor.”


Like a hundred other insiders before him, Romney is trying to paint himself as an outsider, but the suit doesn’t fit. True, he is not a “lifetime politician.” But he is the son of the former governor of Michigan and he’s been active in politics since the early 1990s, when he ran for the U.S. Senate and lost. Romney’s a former governor and he ran for the 2008 GOP presidential nod — and as soon as he was out, he pretty much started running for the 2012 nomination.

Romney might not be a Washington insider or a lifetime office-holder, but he’s about as much of a political creature through and through as . . . well, everyone else who’s still in the race.

Sunday, January 8th, 2012

Jason Segel Gets Date Invite On YouTube

Thursday, January 5th, 2012

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