Oct 21 • 40M

How Siskel and Ebert Changed Hollywood

Author Matt Singer has written a new history of the antagonist critics

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Sonny Bunch
Sonny Bunch hosts The Bulwark Goes to Hollywood, featuring interviews with folks who have their finger on the pulse of the entertainment industry during this dynamic—and difficult—time.
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DYNAMIC DUO From left, Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel on the set of Siskel and Ebert at the Movies. (Michael L. Abramson/Getty Images)


Sonny Bunch is a contributing columnist at the Washington Post, The Bulwark culture editor, and member of the Washington Area Film Critics Association.

I’m joined by Matt Singer this week, author of Opposable Thumbs: How Siskel and Ebert Changed Movies Forever. The book, out this Tuesday, is a wide-ranging look at the myriad ways in which Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel’s seminal show — or, really, three shows, which ran across multiple networks over multiple decades —changed not only film criticism but film marketing as well. We talked about the introduction of the thumb system — which, shockingly, was not with the duo from the beginning — and why their genuinely antagonistic relationship hasn’t really translated to the YouTube/podcast era of film criticism.

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