What happened to Roger Ebert, face and health of film critic

Filed in Gather News Channel by on March 1, 2010 0 Comments

Famous movie critic Roger Ebert is well known by many people, however once he stopped appearing on television, there were many who didn’t realize the battle he was part of. Some people who may have recently seen a photo or video are wondering what happened to Roger Ebert, due to his different appearance, particularly with his face.  Viewers may have seen Ebert on a recent episode of Oprah Winfrey where he provides his picks for 2010 Oscar winners.

In 2002, Ebert was diagnosed with papillary thyroid cancer.  The condition required several operations which ultimately took away the film critic’s voice and altered part of his lower face.  The operations included radiation therapy for his salivary glands, and removal of part of his lower jaw bone.  In 2006, he nearly lost his life due to a carotid artery burst near the surgery site.   The surgeries on his salivary gland and jaw area also prevented his ability to speak, eat or drink.  Guest hosts began to fill in him for Ebert on the popular weekly film review show, due to the fact Ebert’s health required a vigilant recovery effort.  Ebert continues to write for his film column for the Chicago Sun Times.  As for spoken word, he eventually began using text-to-speech software which would speak the words he typed, according to a report at CNET News.

Miraculously despite what happened to Roger Ebert with his face and voice, he’s once again been able to speak in as close to his normal voice as possible.  For a recent recorded segment on the Oprah Winfrey show Ebert used a new TTS technology from CereProc.  The software uses previous recorded vocals to build a person’s voice.  Ebert used commentary tracks he did from various films released to DVD, and sent them to CereProc.  According to reports, Roger Ebert is very pleased with the results and it’s quite a triumph for a man who was used to speaking passionately about the movies he loved or disliked. 

For more info about this software, a test page at the CereProc website allows people to check out samples of this interesting TTS technology, including various accents and celebrity voices like President Obama or Arnold Schwarzenegger.

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