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Bronze statue of Ebert unveiled

BY CARYN ROUSSEAU Associated Press

CHICAGO - Roger Ebert's final blog posting last April ended with his hopeful sign-off: "I'll see you at the movies." The award-winning film critic died two days later.

Visitors to the central Illinois theater that hosts the annual "Ebertfest" film festival he started now may feel like they saw him at the movies. A life-sized bronze statue of the longtime Chicago Sun-Times critic was unveiled Thursday outside the Virginia Theatre in Champaign, which is next to Urbana where Ebert grew up.

His wife, Chaz Ebert, described the statue as "interactive art," because it shows her late husband giving his famous "thumbs up" sign and sitting between two empty theater seats where visitors can sit.

"Roger, he would feel honored that someone wanted to do this for him, but he almost would feel embarrassed because he was so modest," Chaz Ebert said. "But he would be very grateful that they thought enough of him to do it."

Ebert died at age 70 after a long battle with cancer. He won the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism in 1975, becoming the first film critic to do so, and he became a household name through his nationally syndicated column and the television show he co-hosted with Gene Siskel, a Chicago Tribune film critic who died in 1999.

The statue will remain outside the Virginia Theatre during this week's festival, which ends Sunday.

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