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Ebert Giving As Good As He Gets

By Rob Christopher in Arts & Entertainment on Apr 23, 2009 5:00PM

photo of street sign in Champaign by .m.e.c.

Yesterday, Roger Ebert's boyhood home in Urbana was granted landmark status in a ceremony which included Mayor Laurel Prussing. Ebert and his wife Chaz were present for the placement of a bronze plaque at 410 E. Washington St. where he lived with his parents from 1942 to 1961. He obviously has very fond memories of the place, writing, "I was born at the center of the universe, and have had good fortune for all of my days." The beloved film critic was in town to kick off his 11th Annual Ebertfest, spotlighting underseen and underappreciated movies.

But Roger isn't just sitting around while the accolades pour in. He's actually busier than ever, reviewing movies at a breakneck pace and firing off long missives on his blog. And giving away $1 million. After the plaque ceremony he announced a gift in that amount to to go toward creation of the Roger Ebert Program for Film Studies at the University of Illinois. In a statement, he wrote, "Although there were no film courses [at U of I] when I was an undergraduate, it nevertheless guided me in my lifelong love of film. I hope when this program and center are fully realized, they will inspire new generations." Ebert has earmarked his papers and archives for the university's library, which includes a complete video collection of his episodes of At the Movies.