It wasn’t just a movie and popcorn for film critic Roger Ebert when he attended a screening at the Toronto Film Festival on Saturday.
According to the NY Daily News, Roger was attacked by New York Post film critic Lou Lumenick, as the Chicago Sun-Times writer attended “Slumdog Millionaire” a film by Danny Boyle (“Trainspotting”) that’s been receiving Oscar buzz.
A source told the paper that after the lights went down, “a man in the audience started yelling, ‘Don’t touch me!’ People looked around and shrugged. Ten minutes later, the voice yells again, ‘I said don’t touch me!’”
A few minutes later, “The guy stands up in the darkness and thwacks the guy behind him with a big festival binder. He hit him so hard everybody could hear it. Everyone freaked out and turned around,” the source added
Roger, 66, who is currently battling thyroid and salivary cancer and can no longer speak, issued a response to the incident in the Chicago Sun-Times.
“If it were up to me, you would never have heard about the incident at the Toronto Film Festival on the morning of Sept. 6 when a fellow critic whacked me with a rolled-up program or a festival binder or something. It has been blown out of proportion. It is of little interest,” Roger wrote.
He explained that he had difficulty reading the subtitles due to his neck surgery and because Lumenick was leaning into the aisle and blocking his view. When he tapped Lumenick on the shoulder repeatedly to get his attention, the situation escalated.
Roger continued to say that the story spread, turning into a rumor about him being “beat up.” In his response, Roger noted that he is more than capable of taking care of himself.
“I have had my problems, but I promise you I am plenty hearty enough to withstand a smack, and quite happy, after the smack, to tap him again,” Roger wrote. “I had to see those subtitles. There was no pain. The incident is over. Peace.”