Roger Ebert says that his cancer has returned, so it's time to slow down and take a "leave of presence."
"The immediate reason for my 'leave of presence' is my health," he writes on his Chicago Sun-Times blog. "The painful fracture that made it difficult for me to walk has recently been revealed to be a cancer. It is being treated with radiation, which has made it impossible for me to attend as many movies as I used to... What in the world is a leave of presence? It means I am not going away. My intent is to continue to write selected reviews, but to leave the rest to a talented team of writers handpicked and greatly admired by me."
In his blog, Ebert also said that he'll scale down his entries, but is widening the topics.
"At this point in my life, in addition to writing about movies, I may write about what it's like to cope with health challenges and the limitations they can force upon you," he says. "It really stinks that the cancer has returned and that I have spent too many days in the hospital. So on bad days I may write about the vulnerability that accompanies illness. On good days, I may wax ecstatic about a movie so good it transports me beyond illness."
Ebert, 70, began his career as the newspaper's film critic in 1967. He later went on to co-host a weekly film review show with Gene Siskel, which was picked up by PBS in 1978. It became At the Movies with Gene Siskel and Robert Ebert in 1982 when it was syndicated. When Siskel died in 1999, Richard Roeper, also a Sun-Times columnist, became his co-host.
Ebert has been battling his health over the last decade. In 2006, he was forced to step down from the program after undergoing surgery for thyroid cancer, as complications from the surgery severely impaired his ability to speak. He continued to review films for the Chicago Sun-Times, while At the Movies went on indefinite hiatus at the end of 2011.
"What's more, I'll be able at last to do what I've always fantasized about doing: reviewing only the movies I want to review," Ebert says, adding, "So on this day of reflection I say again, thank you for going on this journey with me. I'll see you at the movies."