Saturday, March 9, 2013

Enemies, a Love Story: The Oral History of
Siskel & Ebert (2012)

by Josh Schollmeyer

Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert were two of the luckiest guys on the planet. If you really think about it, they began as virtual unknowns, a couple of movie reviewers in Chicago, authors of film reviews that people read but rarely looked at the byline, if ever. Sure, Ebert had won a Pulitzer Prize, but how many other winners over the last forty years can you actually name . . . ? That’s what I thought. Enemies, a Love Story: The Oral History of Siskel & Ebert, charts the rise and fall of this mercurial pair who came from nowhere to become national celebrities, and the face of movie criticism, almost overnight.

Josh Schollmeyer is an executive editor at Playboy, and has been a feature writer for years, most notably as founder of The Chicagoan, and Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. The book was originally a lengthy article in The Chicagoan in which Schollmeyer conducted fifty interviews over the course of a year with individuals associated with the show. There is no narration, but quotes from individuals are deftly arranged to comprise a sprightly narrative on their own.

Few of the participants had any notion that a quirky idea that began at the local Chicago PBS station would blossom into a national sensation and become forever after part of our national consciousness. I remember vividly myself seeing the show when it first aired on my local PBS affiliate, and my whole family became instant fans. The article about the inside story of these two disparate writers who seemingly had nothing in common with each other, and at times even disliked each other, and yet were entirely dependent upon each other for the success of the show, is absolutely riveting.

Schollmeyer himself is a major advocate for web-based writing and, as such, the book is available as an electronic article. I picked mine up on Amazon for my Kindle. But it was originally published and is still available on the Now & Then e-reader site. It’s inexpensive and gripping. I read the entire article in one sitting while waiting for a plane at the airport. For anyone interested in this cultural phenomenon, Enemies, a Love Story: The Oral History of Siskel & Ebert is a must read.

No comments:

Post a Comment