I have had the occasion to run into Roger Ebert many times and always found him to be very funny and smart. It was always a treat to talk to him. The first time was when the ABC station in Chicago hired me to shoot an ad for the local Emmy broadcast featuring Roger and an unknown morning talk show host named Oprah Winfrey. He tied his Bow tie without looking and was ready to go!
The last time I saw him was in a screening room when we were seeing a new movie. After he got his popcorn, he sat down next to me and we began talking. I mentioned that I had a home theater, and his ears perked up, as this was one of his favorite topics of conversation. He asked me how many speakers I had, and when I replied “Five” he began ridiculing me (in a totally funny way), explaining that he had eight speakers in his system and the missing three (center rear and two side speakers) severely compromised my sound, and that I had better upgrade immediately!
The last time I talked to him (actually not him but his assistant- at that point he couldn’t talk any more) was when I got a request last year asking if he could use the ad that I shot 20 years earlier of him and Oprah in his book. I explained that he didn’t have to ask, as it was a published piece, but he insisted on sending me a check for $100 anyway! A really nice guy, and a great writer. He will be missed.