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You also save one slot each year for a 70mm screening. Is the 70mm format something that studios have overlooked? Which 70mm screening has impressed you most, over the life of your festival?
70mm is a glorious visual spectacle. As movie theaters have grown smaller, so have the movies they show. IMAX is glorious, but the company is now expanding into multiplexes without true IMAX screens, and often using digital instead of their own 70mm format. Some of our great moments: Patton, Oklahoma! in Todd-AO 70mm, Lawrence of Arabia, and of course 2001: A Space Odyssey. HAL 9000 notes in the film that he was born "in the computer lab in Urbana, Illinois." The restored Virginia Theater uses a vast, beautiful screen.
You were very public in recent years about your health problems, and the debate you faced, in whether or not to attend the festival given that you were unable to speak. How has the festival changed for you, as you've moved from the stage to the audience?
Of course I miss not being able to speak. But I never debated not attending the festival. Wild horses couldn't have dragged me away, but a broken leg the previous week did the trick. My wife Chaz is now the emcee, and many of my friends among film critics help with the Q&As. I'll always treasure the night I was onstage with Werner Herzog and he dealt with audience questions until 2 a.m.
Your blog has been singled out recently as having some of the best reader feedback of any blog on the web. But only a fraction of your posts have had to do with movies many dealing with larger issues of metaphysics, philosophy, politics and the media industry. Given all the film writing you do on a weekly basis, how do you make the time to write on all these other topics?
Yes, Computer World said, "about the best comments you will find on the web." That speaks highly for my readers. The blog is a great gift. I use it to write about anything, often topics of great personal meaning to me. A typical entry will run 2,000 to 5,000 words, and I vet all the comments so we aren't plagued with the half-witted immaturity of so many blogs. I also respond top a lot of them. A discussion of Evolution vs. Creationism has so far topped 3,000 literate, thoughtful comments across three entries. Darwin is one of my heroes.
You recently severed your working relationship with Disney, stepping away from your television show and taking your trademarked thumbs with you. Any plans for when those thumbs might return to TV? And what do you think of the new At the Movies program, hosted by Ben Lyons and Ben Mankiewicz?
I'm pleased that Richard Roeper and I will be presenting a new movie review program, to be announced in the near future. It will involve Richard, of the Chicago Sun-Times, Michael Phillips of the Chicago Tribune and Christy Lemire of the Associated Press. I have made no public comment about what Disney has done to our show.