With the usual grace and wit that generally permeates his film reviews, Roger Ebert announced on his site on Tuesday night that he's decreasing his workload due to yet another cancer battle.
"The immediate reason for my 'leave of presence' is my health," he writes. "The 'painful fracture' that made it difficult for me to walk has recently been revealed to be a cancer. It is being treated with radiation, which has made it impossible for me to attend as many movies as I used to. I have been watching more of them on screener copies that the studios have been kind enough to send to me. My friend and colleague Richard Roeper and other critics have stepped up and kept the newspaper and website current with reviews of all the major releases. So we have and will continue to go on."
Ebert previously battled thyroid cancer in 2002 — a fight that led to reconstructive surgeries and left the film critic without his lower jaw or the ability to speak or eat solid foods. The 70-year-old says his health issues may end up becoming a new addition to the entertainment articles he frequently publishes.
"At this point in my life, in addition to writing about movies, I may write about what it's like to cope with health challenges and the limitations they can force upon you," he says. "It really stinks that the cancer has returned and that I have spent too many days in the hospital. So on bad days I may write about the vulnerability that accompanies illness. On good days, I may wax ecstatic about a movie so good it transports me beyond illness."
Despite the diagnosis, Ebert fully intends to keep actively involved in his growing media empire through his new company, Ebert Digital.
"We'll be recruiting more critics, and it is my hope that some of the writers I have admired over the years will be among them," he says. "We'll offer many more reviews of Indie, foreign, documentary and restored classic revivals. As the space between broadcast television, cable and the Internet morph into a hybrid of content, we will continue to spotlight the musings of Pulitzer Prize-winning TV critic Tom Shales, as well as the blog 'Scanners' by Jim Emerson, who I first met at Microsoft when he edited Cinemania. The Ebert Club newsletter, under editor Marie Haws of Vancouver, will be expanded to give its thousands of subscribers even bigger and better benefits."
We wish Roger all the best in this new fight. To read his full announcement, jump here.