Roger Ebert has suffered a health setback.
The famed film critic announced Tuesday on his website that he's going to be reducing his workload reviewing movies and writing columns for the Chicago Sun-Times so he can undergo treatment for his cancer, which sadly has returned.
In a blog post entitled "A Leave of Presence," the 70-year-old Ebert explained that he's "not going away" but rather intends to step away from the daily grind to pen selected reviews and focus on tackling his latest illness, which doctors discovered when he fractured his hip in December.
"The immediate reason for my 'leave of presence' is my health," wrote the At the Movies cohost. "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."
While he fulfills his fantasy of reviewing only the flicks he wants to review, Ebert said he's leaving the rest to a handpicked team of writers, among them his old pal Richard Roeper. He's also working with his wife, Chaz, on relaunching on April 9 a new and improved version of his website, Rogerebert.com, under his flagship Ebert Digital.
And his namesake film festival, Ebertfest, now in its 15th year at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign, his alma mater, will proceed as in past years—it's slated to run from April 17–21.
Ebert fans will be delighted to learn two other bits of good news. After receiving repeated requests, Ebert said he's launching a Kickstarter campaign in the next couple of weeks to bring At the Movies back to the tube. Additionally, he revealed that writer-director Steven Zaillian, Martin Scorsese and Hoop Dreams helmer Steve James have joined forces to make a documentary on his life.
"I am humbled that anyone would even think to do it, but I am also grateful," Ebert said.
The legendary movieman, who lost his voice to the disease a few years ago, said he also plans to write about his "health challenges and the limitations they can force upon you."
"It really stinks that the cancer has returned and that I have spent too many days in the hospital," Ebert added. "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."
We'll give a big thumbs up to that and wish him a speedy recovery.