Siskel & Ebert history becomes one for the eBooks

Robservations on the media beat:

  • Enemies, A Love Story, the landmark oral history of Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert that first appeared in the premiere issue of The Chicagoan, will be published today as an eBook single by Now and Then Reader. It’s available for $1.99 on Amazon’s Kindle Singles, Apple Quick Reads, and Barnes and Noble Nook Books. A lengthy excerpt also appears today on Writer Josh Schollmeyer, executive editor of Playboy and winner of a National Magazine Award, based the 25,000-word masterpiece on interviews with 36 participants and observers of the Siskel & Ebert phenomenon (including me). It’s an insightful and unflinching examination of the dueling Chicago movie critics and the unique chemistry that made them national television stars and pop culture icons.

  • When it came to declaring a winner of the Illinois Republican presidential primary Tuesday, one of Chicago’s biggest news organizations made the call too early while another came in surprisingly late. Hours before the polls opened, ABC 7 mistakenly posted a test page online announcing Rick Santorum the winner with 32 percent of the vote. “It appears that Chicago’s ABC O&O WLS either has a time machine or a sweet hookup with the New World Order,” one wag wrote before the page was taken down. But by Tuesday night, the Chicago Tribune lagged well behind the Associated Press and other major media outlets in calling the race for Mitt Romney. The Tribune didn’t post its breaking news alert until Romney himself claimed victory nearly 40 minutes later. (Think they’re still spooked by Dewey Defeats Truman?)

  • The new owners of the Chicago Sun-Times didn’t come to the rescue of the Chicago News Cooperative, as some had hoped. But they may be helping to bail out the defunct nonprofit news outfit after all. “The Chicago News Cooperative is close to a deal with the Chicago Sun-Times that will help us wind down our affairs and, most importantly, make certain all of our former colleagues get paid,” David Greising, managing editor of the CNC, wrote in a note Tuesday to CNC’s free-lance writers. “The Sun-Times is paying only enough to help us cover our bills, including the amounts owed to our former colleagues, but the Sun-Times will not release any money until it receives releases from 100 percent of the CNC's former contributors. . . . In exchange for your help in this matter, you will receive a check for $100. The Sun-Times will take this amount from the sum they are paying to help us cover our obligations and liquidate the Cooperative in an orderly fashion.” It’s nice to know that the writers may get what they’re owed. But it’s not clear what the Sun-Times gets out of the deal.

  • Geoffrey Baer, best known for his splendid video tours of Chicago historical sites and neighborhoods, takes viewers on a different kind of journey this week. Architect Michael Graves: A Grand Tour, hosted and co-written by Baer, premieres at 8pm Thursday on public television WTTW-Channel 11. Produced and co-written by Daniel Andries, the 30-minute documentary profiles the life and work of the famed architect, who was paralyzed by a mysterious illness in 2003 but continues to design great works. The inspiring and enlightening special will be repeated at 8pm Friday and 11:30pm Saturday.

  • A tip of the hat to Mary Ellen Kachinske, who today marks the 10th anniversary of her promotion to program director of Hubbard Radio’s hot adult-contemporary WTMX-FM (101.9). It’s hard to remember when The Mix wasn’t the top-rated adult station in the market — and that’s largely thanks to sharp people behind the scenes like Kachinske.

  • The death of Norman Mark drew tributes to the talented and versatile former Chicago newspaper, radio and television personality. As TV critic of the Chicago Daily News, he served as an inspiration and a role model. Mark died Monday at 72 in Rancho Mirage, California, from complications of multiple myeloma.

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Laura Baginski, Editor (@TimeOutChicago)