I posted this on my Facebook page last week, then thought a wider audience might enjoy it today: a 1995 episode of the short-lived (and wickedly funny) animated series The Critic that featured Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert.
In the episode, the duo breaks up their partnership and each court the series lead character, Jay Sherman--voiced by Jon Lovitz--as a replacement. Siskel and Ebert do their own voices, as did movie critics Rex Reed and Gene Shalit.
(And to keep this page reasonably honest, the series intro features some nifty animated versions of NYC landmarks such as the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Guggenheim Museum, the Dakota apartments, the United Nations complex and the departed World Trade Center.)
And I'll close with this 1997 Ebert cameo from the filmed-in-Chicago series, Early Edition:
"I walk around Chicago, and look up at buildings of variety and charm. I walk into lobbies of untold beauty. I ascend in elevators fit for the gods. Then I walk outside again and see the street defaced by the cruel storefronts of bank branches and mall chains, scornful of beauty. Here I squat! they declare. I am Chase! I am Citibank! I am Payless Shoe Source! I don't speak to my neighbors. I have no interest in pleasing those who walk by. I occupy square footage at the lowest possible cost. My fixtures can be moved out overnight. I am capital."
— Roger Ebert, discussing architecture in his Chicago Sun-Times blog, July, 12, 2010.
During my nine years at the Chicago Sun-Times and in the 12 years since, Roger Ebert and I kept in touch, occasionally sending email to one another—mostly about film. We discussed the brilliance of 1993's Tombstone, particularly Val Kilmer's performance as Doc Holliday; that Michael Mann's big screen hit Heat was really a remake--albeit a fine one--of the director's 1989 made-for-TV film, L.A.
The university--which purchased the building in 2004 and has eyed it for demolition since at least 2011--applied for a permit in late December to raze the building.
Chicago shows off quite nicely in television commercials and these pair of TV spots from nearly 35 years ago underscore that point.
The first commercial, from 1980, is for the old American National Bank. The spot shows a brisk, fast-paced city where deals are made and business is handled--the perfect setting for "the bank for business." Marina City and the then-IBM Building make an early appearance as they are approached in a point-of-view shot taken from a moving L train. There's a nice eastward view down the main branch of the Chicago River toward Michigan Avenue.
Listen to the commercial's score--it's pretty darn good--and how it punctuates the bank's slogan at the end. I wonder how many industries represented in the commercial still exist here today, though. Especially that bottling plant and the printing company. First Chicago Bank acquired American National in 1984, but allowed the bank to retain its name.The former Bank One (now Chase) later swallowed First Chicago and did away with the American National name in 2002.
American National's Chicago headquarters at 33 N. LaSalle is seen at the end of the commercial.
On to the next one...
In the commercial below from 1979, an actor portraying a Chicago firefighter goes wild over his new red '79 Pontiac Firebird.
Here is another blast from Chicago's cinematic past: The Million Dollar Rip Off, a 1976 made-for-television movie about an ex-con who plans a heist $1.5 million from the Chicago Transit Authority.
Comic Freddie Prinze plays the improbably-named Muff Kovak, the aforementioned con and mastermind. He leads an all-girl crew of four 1970s hotties to steal the CTA's loot. And, of course, a detective is on his trail. The movie was filmed in Chicago--but I'm guessing not entirely--and features a fair amount of downtown architecture and lots of scenes of CTA stations and trains rolling about. It's kind of cool to see the city set to a 1970s score.
(As I think of it, $1.5 million split five ways, only means they'd have to re-rob the CTA sometime in 1983--or get jobs--when their cash ran out. But still...)
Does Prinze get away with it? Watch and see. The entire movie, courtesy of Hulu, is above.