Film critics A.O. (Tony) Scott of the The New York Times and Michael Phillips of the The Chicago Tribune will take over the role of co-hosts of the long-running film criticism series “At the Movies” starting in September.
The pair replace Ben Lyons and Ben Mankiewicz, the oft-criticized pairing who took over the show when Disney decided to retool the series, a move that caused the departure of then critics Roger Ebert and Richard Roeper.
The baby-faced Lyons in particular has come under a lot of derision for his opinions and inability to articulate his arguments.
The new pairing of seasoned newspaper critics is seen as a move to try and restore some luster to the property which suffered not just critical attacks but a ratings slide.
Phillips and Scott proved themselves the strongest of the guest critics that took over Ebert’s chair post-surgery from 2006 to 2008 and were among the most repeated returnees to the guest seat opposite Roeper. Phillips essentially served as the show’s regular cohost for much of 2008.
Brian Frons, president of Daytime programming at Disney-ABC Television Group, says that “We tried something new last season and we think the world of Ben Lyons and Ben Mankiewicz. They did everything we asked of them and they have been complete professionals. However, we’ve decided to return the show to its original essence – two traditional film critics discussing current motion picture and DVD releases. We thank them for their hard work and dedication this past year and wish them nothing but the best on all of their future endeavors.”