Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Roger Ebert keeps the idiomatic "thumbs up" as a trademark

In a bizarre development of corporate namesakes, the Walt Disney company will take “Siskel & Ebert” and then “Ebert & Roper” in a “new direction”, and Roger Ebert will no longer be connected to it. Yet, the studio will apparently use his name.

At the same time, however, Robert Ebert is keeping the “thumbs up” or “two thumbs up” (or “thumbs down”) phrases as trademarks for movie ratings. A fairly common idiomatic expression in English becomes and stays a trademark.

Siskel and Ebert had started as “Sneak Previews” in 1975. Siskel died of a brain tumor in 1999 at 53. Ebert has battled salivary gland cancer in recent years.

Ebert has always been known for innovative reviews that tended to favor smaller, independent films before they themselves became big business. A couple other of his favorite movies were “Wolfen” and “The Year of Living Dangerously.” He seemed to like originality in story telling, a willingness to take risks with the “three part” structure so fundamental to screenwriting.

Ebert’s account of the change appears on his own site in a Statement here.

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