"Whoa! My memoir has been optioned for a doc by Steve James ("Hoop Dreams") and Steven Zaillian, with Martin Scorsese as exec producer."
The documentary will be based on the 70-year-old Chicago Times critic's 2011 memoir, Life Itself, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The memoir chronicles Ebert's battles with alcoholism and cancer (thyroid and salivary gland) as well as the joys of his double-decade marriage to Chaz Hammelsmith Ebert and his outlook on life in general.
Ebert said the news came out of the blue. In an email to the Chicago Sun Times, he said, “I couldn’t be happier."
He told Matt Singer at CriticWire that he has very high hopes for what these brilliant filmmakers will produce -- and he has no intention to interfere in any way.
"I'm keeping hands off any involvement, such as with the screenplay, because I don't want to be a third wheel," Ebert told Singer. "Whatever they do I will be fascinated."
Ebert, who was the first film critic to win the Pulitzer Prize, has written for the Times for 45 years, but he is perhaps most famous for his thumbs-up, thumbs-down television show, "At the Movies," which he co-hosted with Gene Siskel for almost 25 years.
Ebert's blog, "Roger Ebert's Journal," still appears regularly in the Sun-Times. In January 2010, he wrote a post entitled, "Nil by Mouth," in which he talked about how his cancer surgeries rendered him unable to speak, eat, or drink. He uses a feeding tube now. He said he doesn't miss the actual food and drink, but he misses the company that went along with it.
"It may be personal, but unless I'm alone, it doesn't involve dinner if it doesn't involve talking. The food and drink I can do without easily. The jokes, gossip, laughs, arguments and shared memories I miss."
More details about the Roger Ebert biopic are expected to be released soon.