Roger Ebert's unofficial chair at the Lake Street screening room, 70 E. Lake. Friday, April 5, 2013. | Brian Jackson ~ Sun-Times
Updated: May 8, 2013 6:45AM
The movie screening room on Lake Street was Roger Ebert’s kingdom, and his throne was the left aisle seat in the back row.
If a newcomer accidentally sat in Ebert’s seat, he or she was gently asked to move. The same went for the seats in front of him. Often, Roger’s wife, Chaz, would sit one chair over on his right, and they’d share snacks from a bag in the seat between them.
God forgive you if you pulled out a cellphone or tried to use a light to see your notebook — both rookie mistakes. But it was like “Fight Club” — no one talked about it.
Gene Siskel sat on the opposite side, in the same row. In later years, Richard Roeper also sat on the right side, though a few rows down, on the aisle.
In some ways, the screening room was Roger’s living room, and often he’d use it to hold court, though it never felt like he dominated the conversations. He’d talk about a recent attempt to get through Proust, strategies for losing weight — even dispensing advice about how to deal with your girlfriend’s demon cat. And there was never a wrong time to tell a joke.
On Friday, a rose had been left in Ebert’s seat — in tribute.
Robert K. Elder