Sneak Previews (1975–1996)

TV Series   |    |  Talk-Show


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Sneak Previews (1975) Poster

Two critics review films both old and new.

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8.2/10
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17 December 2002 | donmccullen-1
Where "Siskel & Ebert" got their start
In the mid 1970's, public television station WTTW/Chicago wanted to do a movie review program which was unheard of at the time. This show was called "Coming Soon to a Theater near You" and it paired two movie critics from two rival newspapers in Chicago. Gene Siskel from the Tribune and Roger Ebert of the Sun-Times.

Coming Soon... started out as a local show for WTTW, but the show's popularity caught the attention of PBS, who wanted to distribute the show nationally. Coming Soon... changed its name to "Sneak Previews" and the rest is history.

Siskel and Ebert would discuss the current movies that were playing and one of the best parts of their show is where they disagree on film in which one liked and the other lumped it. Keep in mind however that their trademark "Thumbs Up/Down" was not used here. Rather they used a basic Yes/No regarding their take on the movies. For example when recapping the movies you would see a Yes or No on screen and who said. Something like, Ebert: Yes, Siskel: Yes. Not as great as "Two Thumbs Up" but you get the drift.

Siskel and Ebert had a very strong following. A little too strong however and the two had to grow and to do that they had to move to commercial TV. WTTW remained committed to the show and brought in Neal Gabler and Jeffery Lyons to review the movies. In 1985 Gabler was replaced by Michael Medved who brought a conservative slant on the movies.

Sneak Previews had difficulties trying to reclaim its popularity without Siskel & Ebert. It switched to cable and back to PBS in mid 80's. In the late 80's/early 90's Sneak Previews switched its focus on movies on home video rather than at the theater, and then going back to the original format more/less before Sneak Previews ended its run for good in 1996.

Lyons and Medved were critics in their own right, and conservative thinking people that wanted a different slant on the movies had Medved on their side. However that was not enough to keep the show going.

If anything Sneak Previews brought the ideal of movie review shows to the little screen. Without Sneak Previews their would not be a "Siskel & Ebert."

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