Roger Ebert’s movie reviews return to TV

Now that he’s found his “voice” again, Roger Ebert’s first television show since 2006 will be produced at the hi-def studios of educational station and PBS affiliate WYCC/Ch. 20 on the South Side.

The Reel has learned that Ebert Productions and Ch. 20 have agreed to work together, although the final contract is awaiting signatures.

Ebert’s return to television was tipped in the briefest of scenes in a feature about a day in Roger Ebert’s life on Oprah’s March 2 pre-Oscar show, in which Ebert introduced his new computerized “voice” in giving his Oscar choices.

When the contract is inked for 26 episodes, set design and construction, casting and other production matters will move forward quickly as the yet untitled show is slated to start airing nationally in late May on PBS a stations, according to informed sources.

Sources say Ebert Productions will supply the director and producing team and Ch. 20 will be responsible for complete production facilities.

It is expected that Carol Iwata of Ebert Productions will produce and Scott Dummler of Luminair Productions will direct. Dummler is the director of Rick Bayless’ award-winning PBS series, “Mexico: One Plate at a Time,” which he has also produced and edited.

Freelance set designer Mary Margaret Bartley is working on the sets.

Studio facilities include a 5,600-sq. ft. production studio, a state-of-the-art control room with a Sony 8000 switcher, a 400-point lighting grid, five Sony HDC 1500 cameras, full audio capabilities, including a Euphonics audio board and 5.1 surround sound, and five Final Cut Pro HD editing suites.

Other features said to have helped cinch the deal were a 394-seat theatre with 4K projection, and easy access to the expressway.