Roger Ebert

Roger Ebert, in full Roger Joseph Ebert, pseudonyms Reinhold Timme and R. Hyde, (born June 18, 1942, Urbana, Illinois, U.S.—died April 4, 2013, Chicago, Illinois), American film critic, perhaps the best known of his profession, who became the first person to receive a Pulitzer Prize for film criticism (1975).

Ebert’s journalism career began at the Champaign-Urbana News-Gazette, where he worked as a sportswriter from age 15. He was on the staff and served as editor in chief of The Daily Illini, the newspaper of the University of Illinois. After graduating (B.A. in journalism, 1964), Ebert spent a year studying in Cape Town, South Africa, on a Rotary scholarship and then began graduate study at the University of Chicago. He left after a year to accept a position at the Chicago Sun-Times. In 1967 he was named the paper’s chief film critic, a title he would hold for more than 40 years.

Ebert was known for his unabashed love of cinema and an unpretentious, accessible approach that allowed him to give equal critical consideration to both Hollywood blockbusters and art house fare. An acquaintance with director Russ Meyer led Ebert to write several scripts for the camp auteur in the 1970s, including Beyond the Valley of the Dolls (1970).

Ebert was awarded a Pulitzer Prize in 1975. That same year he and Gene Siskel, lead film critic of the rival Chicago Tribune, agreed to appear together in a televised movie-review program. Opening Soon at a Theater near You aired on public-access television from 1975 to 1978, when it was picked up by the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) and renamed Sneak Previews. The show went into syndication on commercial television in 1982 as At the Movies, and in 1986, with a move to Buena Vista Television, it became Siskel & Ebert & the Movies (later Siskel & Ebert).

As part of his on-air commentary, Ebert originated the famed thumbs-up, thumbs-down rating system, and the phrase “two thumbs up” was later copyrighted. Each week Ebert and Siskel carried on unscripted discussions of the films they reviewed, and their immense popularity was in part due to frequently diverging opinions and a willingness to conduct heated arguments on the air. Their programs received a total of seven prime-time Emmy® Award nominations between 1984 and 1997.


Bill Jackson

Bill Ray Jackson (born September 15, 1935) is an American television personality, cartoonist and educator. He is best known for having hosted the children's programs The BJ and Dirty Dragon Show and Gigglesnort Hotel. His first broadcasting job was at KTVO in Ottumwa, Iowa, where he was a weatherman, copywriter and the station's art director.

After a year at the station, Jackson joined the army and was assigned to Armed Forces Network in Hollywood. It was here where he created his first puppets. His earliest appearance in children's television was in 1960 when he hosted a program in Fort Wayne, Indiana and later in Indianapolis.

His work attracted the attention of WBBM-TV in Chicago, which gave him a program in 1965, known variously as Clown Alley (weekday version) or Here Comes Freckles (Sunday morning version).

Unfortunately, in spite of wide critical praise, the show drew poor ratings largely because it was broadcast early in the morning, and was cancelled after two seasons. Jackson played the title character, Freckles the Clown; although many of the puppet characters continued to appear on later series, Jackson usually played himself (or "B.J.", as his puppet co-stars called him) throughout the remainder of his career.

Jackson's work did not go unnoticed, however, and he was hired by another Chicago station, the then-independent WFLD. Jackson, a gifted artist, comedian and puppeteer, responded in 1968 with a program initially called Cartoon Town, but later renamed The BJ and Dirty Dragon Show. It was here that Jackson, playing the mayor of the cartoon town, reached great heights. Jackson wrote and produced the show, performed all of the puppet characters' voices, built and designed the sets and puppets.

Jackson and his puppets next appeared in the educationally themed program Gigglesnort Hotel in 1975, which brought most of the old Cartoon Town characters back, plus a few new creations. Produced and broadcast by WLS-TV, Chicago's ABC affiliate, the show was very popular with critics, though less so with the public, and ran for three seasons.

He made a final program called Firehouse Follies using the characters in 1979-1980, then left television to teach at California Institute of the Arts for the School of Film/Video for 12 years, retiring in 1990.


Linda Mancuso

Linda made so many contributions to our industry. Her love of the creative process, talent and her team, were inspiring to everyone who came in contact with her, said Anne Sweeney, president, ABC Cable Networks Group and Disney Channel Worldwide.

Mancuso joined ABC Family after spending more than 20 years at NBC where she became coo at Peter Engel Productions/NBC Enterprises. In that role, she oversaw primetime series production including more than 500 half-hours of teen comedies for the NBC network, cable and syndication. In addition to series development and production oversight, Mancuso served as president of Beyond Talent Management. .

She served for four years as vp of primetime series at NBC, where she was part of the development team and exec on the first two seasons of ER. Mancuso played an integral role in NBC childrens and family programming for seven years as director and then vp as the network transitioned from animated to live-action programming. The hit teen series, SAVED BY THE BELL, was launched under her stewardship. .

A native of Winnetka, Illinois, Mancuso started as an unpaid intern at NBCs Chicago affiliate station, produced local shows at that station for five years, before moving out to the networks headquarters in Burbank, California. .

During her short tenure at ABC Family, Mancuso developed SWITCHED! and KNOCK FIRST. .

Linda passed on Dec. 7, 2003 at Good Samaritan Hospital in Los Angeles after a seven-year battle with cancer at the age of 44.

Michael Torchia

Michael Torchia, "Torch" to most of us, has vast experience shooting, directing and producing TV news, commercial industrial and magazine formats. Traveling the globe, he has worked with virtually every major broadcast outlet in the country. Having worked extensively with WLS program and news departments, Torch and his two partners formed Pixel Brothers Productions. According to their clients, "if a picture is worth a thousand words, their work speaks volumes."

Linda Yu

Linda Yu is a Chinese-American former news anchor and author. She is best recognized as being a co-anchor on the Eyewitness newscast for WLS-TV in Chicago, Illinois beginning April 1984 to November 2016.

She became the first Asian-American broadcast journalist in Chicago in her career in news setting off at WMAQ-TV in 1979.

She is a recipient of five local Emmy® Awards for her broadcasting work, including one for her report that examined the aftermath of 9/11 in 2001. She was honored with a National Gold Medal from the National Conference of Community and Justice in 1984 for her documentary, “The Scars of Belfast”.

Her news career started in 1970 as a writer and producer for KTLA-TV in Los Angeles and as a writer for ABC O&O KABC-TV also in Los Angeles. She then moved to Portland, Oregon in 1975, becoming a reporter for KATU-TV. After a while in Oregon, she moved back to California working as a general assignment reporter and backup anchor for ABC O&O KGO-TV in San Francisco, until 1979.

In August 1977, she did a news report that propelled the introduction of state legislation to protect residents from uninsured motorists. n early 1979 she went to Chicago and started working at NBC’s WMAQ-TV in June 1979. She was a general assignment reporter and weekend co-anchor. By February 1980, she started working as co-anchor on the 4:30 and 10PM newscasts alongside Ron Magers. In May 1981, she was awarded Emmy® for a special newscast on the March 30, 1981 assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan. Her second Emmy® Award came in 1982 for her report and coverage of a construction accident in Chicago’s downtown Loop. As of November 1983,she became disturbed with WMAQ-TV’s management, and ended her five-year career with the station in March 1984.

In April 1984, she went to work with the WLS-TV (ABC 7 Chicago) station as co-anchor of the station’s 4PM newscast most of the time alongside news anchor Joel Daly until he retired in 2005.

She also served as co-anchor for the 30-minute 11:30 AM newscast alongside Sylvia Perez, from 1992 until the now hour-long 11 AM newscast was canceled in 2013. In 1987, she was awarded an Emmy® for Outstanding Achievement within a Regularly Scheduled News Program, Spot Coverage. Together with Perez, they were the first women in the Chicago market to co-anchor a newscast.

On September 6, 2016, she announced her retirement from WLS-TV and TV news after 46 years in news and 37 years in the Chicago market. Her last news broadcast was on November 23 at 4 PM. Earlier on that day, Windy City Live (an ABC 7 program) aired a tribute show to her where her friends, family, co-workers, and former co-workers reviewed and celebrated her career as well as her personal contributions to the city. She was a graduate from the University of Southern California with a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism in 1968.