Here's an interesting kerfuffle to kick off your weekend. Yesterday, Disney released a statement, published by the Associated Press, stating that film critic Roger Ebert has exercised his contractual right to withhold use of the famous "THUMBS UP/THUMBS DOWN" which has been a part of the critic's television program (distributed by Disney-ABC Television) since way back when it was Gene Siskel sitting opposite Ebert on the balcony. (You can see the AP story in its entirety over on the ABC News website.)

In response to Disney's statement, Ebert this morning sent out the following email, which I'm reprinting here in its entirety, so that Ebert can have his say in his own eloquent words:

I am discussing with Disney my association with the show that Gene Siskel and I started more than 30 years ago. In addition to my personal involvement, we are discussing the continued use of our THUMBS trademarks, owned by myself and the Siskel family.

Contrary to Disney's press release, I did not demand the removal of the THUMBS. They made a first offer on Friday which I considered offensively low. I responded with a counter-offer. They did not reply to this, and on Monday ordered the THUMBS removed from the show. This is not something I expected after an association of over 22 years. I had made it clear the THUMBS could remain during good-faith negotiations.

During my absence from the balcony, I have been excited to participate in the show in ways other than being on the set. I love the show and I love the THUMBS and I hope we will all be reunited soon.

Ebert further notes, for the record, that he was "not contacted by a Disney publicist or by email." We at Cinematical have followed Ebert's long illness and his recent return to writing about film on his website, and we look forward to the day when he will return -- THUMBS and all -- to his place on the balcony.
categories Movies, Cinematical