Sneak Previews
Sneak Previews was an American film review show, running for over two decades on Public Broadcasting Service
Public Broadcasting Service
The Public Broadcasting Service is an American non-profit public broadcasting television network with 354 member TV stations in the United States which hold collective ownership. Its headquarters is in Arlington, Virginia....

 (PBS). It was created by WTTW
WTTW channel 11 is one of three Public Broadcasting Service member public television stations serving the Chicago, Illinois market; the others are WYCC and WYIN. WTTW began broadcasting on September 6, 1955 and it is owned and operated by Window to the World Communications, Inc., a not-for-profit...

, a PBS affiliate in Chicago, Illinois. It premiered on September 4, 1975 as a monthly local-only show called Opening Soon at a Theater Near You, and was renamed in 1977 when it became a biweekly show airing nationally on PBS. By 1979, it was a weekly series airing on over 180 stations, and was the highest rated weekly entertainment series in the history of public broadcasting.


The show featured two critics who would present short clips of movies in current release then debate the merits of the films, energetically defending their remarks if the other critic disagreed. A designated "dog of the week" was also featured, with "Spot the Wonder Dog" barking on cue as an introduction.

Earlier episodes from the Siskel & Ebert era ended with either Gene or Roger saying, "We'll see you at the movies."

Some episodes were known as Take 2 shows which replaced the review of recently released films with themed topics such as "Women in Danger", and slasher films of the 1970s and early 1980s. On one occasion, Siskel and Ebert invited the viewer into a day in their lives as they screened films.


The show first aired in 1975
1975 in television
The year 1975 in television involved some significant events.Below is a list of television-related events in 1975.For the American TV schedule, see: 1975-76 United States network television schedule.-Events:...

 on a monthly basis under the name Opening Soon at a Theater Near You, and after two successful seasons, was renamed Sneak Previews. The show originally featured Roger Ebert
Roger Ebert
Roger Joseph Ebert is an American film critic and screenwriter. He is the first film critic to win a Pulitzer Prize for Criticism.Ebert is known for his film review column and for the television programs Sneak Previews, At the Movies with Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert, and Siskel and Ebert and The...

, a film critic from the Chicago Sun-Times
Chicago Sun-Times
The Chicago Sun-Times is an American daily newspaper published in Chicago, Illinois. It is the flagship paper of the Sun-Times Media Group.-History:The Chicago Sun-Times is the oldest continuously published daily newspaper in the city...

and Gene Siskel
Gene Siskel
Eugene Kal "Gene" Siskel was an American film critic and journalist for the Chicago Tribune. Along with colleague Roger Ebert, he hosted the popular review show Siskel & Ebert At the Movies from 1975 until his death....

, a film critic from the Chicago Tribune
Chicago Tribune
The Chicago Tribune is a major daily newspaper based in Chicago, Illinois, and the flagship publication of the Tribune Company. Formerly self-styled as the "World's Greatest Newspaper" , it remains the most read daily newspaper of the Chicago metropolitan area and the Great Lakes region and is...


Post-Siskel and Ebert

The success of the show led WTTW to decide to syndicate it to commercial television.
Siskel and Ebert left Sneak Previews in 1982
1982 in television
The year 1982 in television involved some significant events.Below is a list of television-related events in 1982.For the American TV schedule, see: 1982-83 American network television schedule.-Events:...

, citing contractual differences with WTTW. They indicated that they were offered a contract and asked to "take it or leave it", and they chose the latter option. The two critics were soon featured in At the Movies with Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert, a similar show created with Tribune Entertainment
Tribune Company
The Tribune Company is a large American multimedia corporation based in Chicago, Illinois. It is the nation's second-largest newspaper publisher, with ten daily newspapers and commuter tabloids including Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, Hartford Courant, Orlando Sentinel, South Florida...

 and replaced in 1986 by a Disney-produced long-running show first known as Siskel & Ebert & the Movies.

In 1982, WTTW quickly signed Neal Gabler
Neal Gabler
Neal Gabler is a professor, journalist, author, film critic and political commentator.He graduated summa cum laude from the University of Michigan and holds advanced degrees in film and American culture.-Journalist:...

 and Jeffrey Lyons as replacements for Siskel and Ebert on Sneak Previews. Each post-1982 episode ended with the catch phrase
Catch phrase
A catchphrase is a phrase or expression recognized by its repeated utterance. Such phrases often originate in popular culture and in the arts, and typically spread through a variety of mass media , as well as word of mouth...

 "Don't forget to save us the aisle seats." Neal Gabler left Sneak Previews in 1985
1985 in television
The year 1985 involved some significant events.Below is a list of television-related events in 1985.For the American TV schedule, see: 1985-86 United States network television schedule.-Events:*January 1 – VH1 launches in the United States....

, citing philosophical differences with the direction of the show, and was replaced by Michael Medved
Michael Medved
Michael Medved is an American radio host, author, political commentator and film critic. His Seattle, Washington-based nationally syndicated talk show, The Michael Medved Show, airs throughout the U.S...

. Before replacing Gabler, Medved had cameo appearances on the show, presenting the "Golden Turkey Awards," the worst movies of the year.


Although Sneak Previews stayed on the air for 14 years after Ebert and Siskel left, it was never as popular as it was during their tenure. The show changed its title to Sneak Previews Goes Video in 1989 and concentrated on home video releases but then went back to its old title in 1991. PBS continued to air the show until the 1995-1996 season, and then cancelled it.
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