Richard Roeper Plots TV Comeback

At the Movies co-host talks about new show, Entourage cameo.

Richard Roeper, who along with Roger Ebert last month signed off from Buena Vista Productions’ At the Movies with Ebert & Roeper, is expected to announce a new show in the coming weeks.

Roeper doesn’t want to give up the details just yet but said he will aim to carry on the tradition of the show, which started as Sneak Previews in 1978 and which Roeper co-hosted for eight years.

In the 30 years since the show began, film criticism has become a commodity, especially in recent times due to the immediate word-of-mouth afforded by the Internet. And any such project Roeper brings to market will compete with at least two nationally syndicated film-criticism shows -- the one he left (he and Ebert are being replaced by Ben Lyons and Ben Mankiewicz) and NBC Universal’s Reel Talk.

But he isn’t remotely concerned about the competition. “There’s room in the marketplace for a continuation of the most successful and the longest-running movie-review show in TV history: the show that was Siskel & Ebert, and then became Ebert & Roeper some eight years ago,” he said.

Roeper added that it remains to be seen whether Ebert will join the new show and endorse the reintroduction of the “thumbs” he controls and made famous with the late Gene Siskel.

The last real movie Roeper reviewed for At the Movies was Woody Allen’s Vicky Cristina Barcelona. But one more review is due to air -- on the Sept. 7 season premiere of HBO’s Entourage. Roeper pans fictional film Medellin and gets panned right back by Jeremy Piven’s bombastic character, agent Ari Gold. Roeper read the script and considered the ripping a compliment.

“Given that Ari has become one of the most iconic characters in TV history, it was quite an honor,” Roeper said.

Entourage creator Doug Ellin said he had no idea Medellin would be Roeper’s last At the Movies review.

“I’m kind of upset, I loved that show,” the showrunner told B&C, adding that Roeper has the chops to switch gears for his next swing in TV and try acting -- or writing scripted television.

“Maybe he’ll do some acting, too,” Ellin told B&C. “Everyone talks about improvisation on this show. [At the Movies then-temporary co-host] Michael [Phillips] and him made up their whole thing. We gave them scripts we wrote, and they said, ‘What do you think if we did this?’ It was much funnier than what we did. So they can write, too.”