ABC 7’s Ebert coverage up for Emmy

Ron Magers

Ron Magers

WLS-Channel 7’s coverage of the life, death and legacy of legendary film critic Roger Ebert has been nominated for a Chicago Emmy Award.

The ABC-owned station’s extensive reporting on the night of Ebert’s death April 4 was one of eight finalists in the spot news category announced Tuesday by the Chicago/Midwest chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.

Other nominees in the premier newsgathering category include coverage of the resignation of U.S Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. on NBC-owned WMAQ-Channel 5, as well as the usual assortment of floods, fires, shootings and protests on various local stations.

Ebert had close ties to ABC 7, where he’d worked as its resident movie critic since 1984 and taped his nationally syndicated movie-review show, “Ebert & Roeper,” since 2001. For many of his friends and colleagues at the station, including news anchor Ron Magers and longtime producer Marsha Jordan, reporting his death was like sharing a loss in the family.

A posthumous award for his home station’s coverage would be a fitting salute to the beloved media icon, who co-hosted the local Emmy ceremony with Oprah Winfrey in 1986 and was inducted in the Chicago Television Academy’s Silver Circle in 2005.

On the other hand, it’s clear that Emmys no longer mean what they used to. Once a coveted symbol of outstanding achievement, today they’re as emblematic of excellence in broadcasting as Jerry Springer, who was chosen by the academy’s board of governors to host the festivities this year. (“We’re thrilled to have a professional of Jerry Springer’s caliber emcee the event,” chapter president Marcus Riley said.)

First and foremost a revenue source for the academy (with entry fees ranging from $95 to $210 per submission, and extra trophies going for between $240 and $325), this year’s crop includes 155 nominees spread over 66 categories and subcategories.

Nominees were announced at a party Tuesday emceed by Melissa Forman and Jeanne Sparrow, hosts of WCIU-Channel 26’s “You & Me This Morning,” at American Junkie. Winners will be announced at the 55th annual Emmy gala Nov. 3 at Alhambra Palace.

In addition to Chicago, the Midwest region encompasses stations in Peoria-Bloomington and Rockford, Illinois, South Bend-Elkhart, Indiana, and Green Bay-Appleton, Madison, Milwaukee, and Wausau-Rhinelander, Wisconsin.