Film critic Roger Ebert has a new chin.
After more than two years, Ebert, who lost a portion of his jawbone and the ability to speak after a battle with thyroid cancer, is now the proud owner of a new silicone prosthetic that fits over his lower face and neck. Ebert will wear the prosthetic during his segments on the revival of At the Movies.
"I will wear the prosthesis on the new television show. That's not to fool anyone, because my appearance is widely known. It will be used in a medium shot of me working in my office, and will be a pleasant reminder of the person I was for 64 years," Ebert wrote on his Chicago Sun-Times blog. "Symbolically, it's as if my illness never happened and, hey, here I still am, on the show with these new kids. When people see the "Roger's Office" segment, they'll notice my voice more than my appearance."
Ebert now speaks with a computer that uses special software that replicates his voice. He demonstrated the software for the first time during an interview with Oprah last February.
Ebert says he worked with Dr. David J. Reisberg to develop the new chin, going through several models made of different materials. The finished product has helped Ebert deal with the way he now looks, he wrote.
"After surgery, I studiously avoided looking at myself in a mirror. In my mind my face was still whole," he wrote of his attitude before meeting Dr. Reisberg. "At the beginning of this process I assumed I would wear the new prosthesis whenever I left the house, so that 'nobody would know.' But everybody knows. ... Something else has happened since that day in the hospital: I accept the way I look. Lord knows I paid the dues."
Ebert announced his TV return in September. Roger Ebert Presents At the Movies will be hosted by critics Christy Lemire and Ignatiy Vishnevetsky, who will use Ebert's trademark "thumbs up/thumbs down" rating system that he made famous in the original incarnation of the show. Ebert will appear on the episodes, but he will not debate with the hosts.
Roger Ebert Presents At the Movies premieres on Jan. 21. (Check your local listings.)