Was it low ratings or embarassment over content that prompted Disney’s AMC Media Productions to pull the plug on At The Movies co-hosts Ben Lyons and Ben Mankiewicz? I’d like to know the facts and hear all the inside-dirt theories over the coming hours.
My guess is that it was 70% ratings and 30% embarassment over Lyons, whose imprecise and overly generous reviews of too many crap-level films attracted most of the criticism directed at the show. Mankiewicz wasn’t too bad by comparison. Tough deal. If I were Lyons I would issue a statement saying “I’d like to apologize to Ben Mankiewicz for taking him over the side with me.”
The new replacements are newspaper critics Michael Phillips of the Chicago Tribune and A.O. Scott of the New York Times. I’m not sure what their chemistry will be like or whether they’ll disagree very much — they have similar mild-mannered personalities — but thank God for the return of sophistication, film knowledge and all that good brainy stuff to the show, which had its glory days with Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel back in the ’80s and ’90s.