Oscar-winning director Martin Scorsese is now producing a documentary based on film critic Roger Ebert’s memoir Life Itself: A Memoir.
Ebert revealed over the weekend that Scorsese, director of hard-hitting films such as Taxi Driver, Goodfellas, Gangs of New York and The Departed, optioned Ebert’s 2011 book, which chronicles his personal struggles.
Steve James, who made the acclaimed documentaries Hoop Dreams and The Interrupters, will direct the piece while Scorsese and his Gangs of New York collaborator Steven Zaillian will executive produce.
In a statement to his employer, the Chicago Sun-Times, Ebert wrote that he "couldn’t be happier."
"I once wrote a blog about Steve James’s Hoop Dreams, calling it ‘the great American documentary,’" said Ebert. "Now to think of him interested in my memoir is awesome."
Ebert also called Zaillian and Scorsese "brilliant filmmakers." Zaillian won an Oscar for his screenplay for Schindler’s List. He also penned the script to Moneyball and The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo,
Born in Urbana, Ill., Ebert began reviewing movies for the Sun-Times in 1967 and was the first film critic ever to win the Pulitzer Prize. He co-hosted Siskel & Ebert at the Movies for 23 years.
While gaining a reputation as a film reviewer, he wrote film scripts which included Beyond the Valley of the Dolls.
His memoir includes his battle with alcoholism and his bout of thyroid cancer, which has left him unable to speak since 2006.
"Now that I can't speak, writing gives me a voice and an outlet," he told Jian Ghomeshi on Q in a 2011 interview. "It absorbs me, it allows me to feel useful. It saved me from becoming trapped within myself."
The book also talks about his marriage, his politics and spiritual beliefs as well as insights into film luminaries including Werner Herzog, John Wayne and Scorsese.
Ebert is in Toronto this week, planning to sign copies of his book, now out in paperback.