Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The big dog smacks down the poodle

Roger Ebert slams Ben Lyons without even mentioning his name. Oh yes he did.

Roger's little rule book for critics is a lesson in how to avoid becoming Ben Lyons. Readers of this blog will likely recognize some of the references Ebert makes.

He starts with:

We can't be too careful. Employers are eager to replace us with Celeb Info-Nuggets that will pimp to the mouth-breathers, who underline the words with their index fingers whilst they watch television. As the senior newspaper guy still hanging onto a job, I think this task falls upon me.

And continues:

Keep track of your praise. If you call a movie "one of the greatest movies ever made," you are honor-bound to include it in your annual Top Ten list. Likewise, for example, if we describe a film as "the most unique movie-going experience of a generation," and "one of the best films of 2007, and of the last 25 years," it's our duty to put it in the Top Ten of 2007.

But here is where it gets really good. Recognize any of this behavior?

Accept no favors. For example, if some "friends" throw you a birthday party at a classy Vegas joint they hope to fill with movie stars who are your "friends," say thanks, but no thanks. That crosses the line, even if the "Britney Spears of Korea" truly is your close personal friend. Your only real friends come to the party you throw for yourself in the activities room of your condo building, and they bring their own booze. [Note; If the Britney Spears of Korea is the real thing, Britney Spears should be known in Korea as the BoA Kwan of America.]
. . .
No commercial endorsements. This used to be a given in journalism ethics. A critic must be especially vigilant. If you express approval of a product, you must sincerely believe what you are saying. How will we know you're sincere?
. . .
No posing for photos! Never ask a movie star to pose with you for a picture. No movie star ever wants to do this. They may smile, but they're gritting their teeth. "It is the Chinese Water Torture," Clint Eastwood told me.
. . .
Sit down, shut up, and pay attention. No cellphone use. No texting during the movie. No talking out loud. No sucking up the last Coke out of the Kidney-Buster.


You rule, Roger Ebert.

14 comments:

Bashmaster General said...

Quality bashing by Ebert. The inane observations of Ben Lyons easily induce nausea. How long will they keep that show on the air?

Agatha said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you for running this blog.

Lyons is one of the worst movie reviewers I've ever seen. That he's on my beloved show is a travesty and a shame. Ebert wouldn't have had lunch with this guy, much less have him on his show.

He's sorta cute but I'm convinced he's had plastic surgery and very serious dental work. His teeth whitening is more obvious than Joe Biden's!

Scott said...

I wouldn't know, I have been partially blinded by the gleam from Biden's smile ever since the VP debate.

But I see the point. Siskel and Ebert (and Roeper and Phillips, for that matter) were guys who were committed to writing about movies as a career. Ben Lyons just seems like some guy who wants to be famous and on TV.

stevie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
stevie said...

I just can't take this anymore. I'm serious. I have been in a love affair with "At the Movies" for decades. I made sure that it was the very first show I programmed into my Season Pass when I got TiVo. First, I had to suffer through that moron, Roeper, and now we are subjected to this fool, Lyons???? He is so incompetent. The worst part is~whenever he finishes with his mindless drivel, and Ben M., (whom I believe is actually a capable and interesting critic) begins to speak, Dummy barks up with some kind of inane remark that completely throws off the timing of Ben M.'s review and completely FRUSTRATES the viewer. Of course I don't listen to a THING that Dummy has to say, but I would like to hear what Ben M. is saying. His incessant interruptions and banal comments, (which by the way, he is NEVER able to defend when Ben M. asks him to)are rage inducing. Watching "AtM" used to be what I'd imagine it was like to sit in a film class at NYU. Now, it's like watching those insipid spokesmodels on those moronic entertainment weekly shows. I feel like I'm in mourning, I'm so upset. {{{{{{{scream}}}}}}}} Thank you for running this blog.

Brian W said...

Ebert's "Review" of Ben Lyon's was spot on!

Here's another one for you about Ben Lyons:

So if a movie or (performer) really tanks, it could give the expression "thrown to the Lyons" a whole new meaning!

John Saveland said...

God I love Ebert.

odger reebert said...

* On the one hand I can understand the venerable Ebe-ster, one of my favorite critics, not wanting to host anymore since he's gone all Stephen Hawking on us (God bless & well wishes!!!) ... I always had mixed feelings about Roeper, but at least he had some kind of a brain on his shoulders ... Just not an Ebert (or even Siskel) calibre one ...

* But this Lyons puppy is a bridge too far ... It seems like the producers -- already long famous for screwing the show over again & again over the years -- were like: "Wow, a world full of top-notch serious critics all desperate for a shot ... I know, let's go for an MTV-ish philistine who looks like the type of dude that a thirteen year old Jersey girl might fantasize about going to the prom with ... Yeah, that'll boost ratings!!"

* The sad truth is the good days are over and gone ... For those of us who remember the wonderful old days of yore with the classy Chicago-themed opening with the portrait of Ebert's wife and everything, the high-quality conversational back & forths and engrossing debates -- and video reviews of Kino and Criterion titles from the twenties or thirties towards the end of many shows -- well, hate to say it but I've pretty much written it off for dead with this new incarnation ...

ebrown2112 said...

This is absolutely referring to Ben Lyons:

* Do the math. If one week you state, "'Mr. Untouchable' makes 'American Gangster' look like a fairy tale," and the next week you say, "American Gangster" was "Goodfellas" for "the next generation," then you must conclude that "Mr. Untouchable" is better than "Goodfellas." *

Rexx Reed said...

Ebert is a hypocritical hack. You are all so blind. He's still pissed that PBS replaced him with Jeffrey Lyons, and that his attempt to play hardball when his contract was up for renewal backfired. Shame on you for being his enabler. Get a life, Adams. Ebert was a crap tv personality, and has been completely arbitrary in his approach to "criticism" for decades.

Anonymous said...

Rexx Reed, there's not one person on here more blind and wrong than you are. Jeffrey Lyons was on "At the Movies" after Ebert and Siskel left Tribune Entertainment to move their show to Buena Vista in the late '80s. PBS did not "replace" him with Jeffrey Lyons, nor did Ebert "hardball his contract" with them. Ebert ultimately left "Ebert & Roeper" for cancer surgery which left him unable to speak. Ben Lyons was brought in long after Ebert had gone and Roeper quit the show.

Ignoring your petty insults to his fans and Adams, I don't think there's anything "arbitrary" about being thorough, personal, and passionate in film criticism. One major reason Ebert's had the success and following he enjoys is because he's a man that whatever his opinion, knows what he's talking about. More than can be said for you.

Your ID choice is an unfortunate insult to critic/columnist Rex Reed. The real Reed could never be this stupid.

Billy said...

Ebert still gets in his subtle jabs at Lyons. In his latest blog entry:

"I thought at first this desire [to text and Twitter] was centered in teenagers. Then I began to observe it among editors, lawyers, cops, waiters, sports fans, construction workers, people in restaurants, even people watching movies."

Andrew said...

Yet another less-than-subtle jab from Ebert to two pathetic blurbsters. From the end of his negative review of "Irene in Time"...

"Footnote: Strolling around the Internet, I found a review of "Irene in Time" by Tommy Garrett of the Canyon News. He compares Jaglom with Wilder and Hitchcock, then writes: "In Frederick’s case, he has given her a vehicle which has propelled her into a category that no actress in the past 50 years could be placed. Frederick makes the list of very talented women in Hollywood: Garbo, Davis, Crawford and Hepburn."

"I’m grateful to Garrett, who has achieved the feat of writing praise so astonishing we at last have someone to compare to the critic who said, "I Am Legend" was "one of the greatest movies ever made."

http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20090805/REVIEWS/908069997

Anonymous said...

Actually, Ebert was very classy towards Lyons in one respect. At the time, a Canadian paper picked up the story of his blog entry slamming Lyons for all the things he's done and they ran an article on it. They called Ebert about it to get a quote from him and he refused to comment for the article. Guess that's a kindness, to not slam Lyons more than he already had.