Director Martin Scorsese and Steve James are set to produce a documentary about the life and career of Pulitzer prize-winning film critic Roger Ebert, according to The Chicagoist. The film is based on Ebert’s memoir Life Itself, and will be scripted by Schindler’s List scribe Steven Zaillian. Although the film is based on the man’s life, Ebert stated that he doesn’t wish to be part of the creative process.
“I never thought of my book as a doc. I’m keeping hands off any involvement, such as with the screenplay, because I don’t want to be a third wheel. Whatever they do I will be fascinated,” he explained to Indiewire.
Regarding producers Steve James, the director of the critically acclaimed Hoop Dreams, and Martin Scorsese, Ebert had nothing but the highest of praise. “I once wrote a blog about Steve James’ ‘Hoop Dreams’, calling it ‘the great American documentary’,” he wrote in an email to The Chicago-Times. “His ‘The Interrupters’, about volunteers trying to stop street violence in Chicago, is urgent and brave. Now to think of him interested in my memoir is awesome. Zaillian and Scorsese are also brilliant film-makers. I couldn’t be happier, especially since I never thought of ‘Life Itself’ as a film.”
The Guardian reports that the upcoming documentary will cover a vast array of topics touched upon in the critic’s book. In his memoir, Ebert discusses everything from his career in film criticism to his struggles with alcohol. The book also chronicles his battle with thyroid cancer, a condition which robbed Ebert of his ability to speak in 2006.
In addition to reviewing films, Roger Ebert also tried his hand at writing a few features back in the 70s. Beyond the Valley of the Dolls was the critic’s first endeavor, and also served as his first collaboration with director Russ Meyer. According to Internet Movie Database, the film was followed by Up! in 1976 and Beneath the Valley of the Ultra-Vixens in 1979. It’s worth noting that the last two efforts were penned under pseudonyms.