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Nov 16, 2015
N'DIGO Talks With Chaz Ebert
Chaz Ebert is a dear friend and we had a chance to chat while she was in Los Angles by phone. Chaz and I share the same hair stylist and often visit in the salon. I saw her take care of her late husband, Roger Ebert. If it were up to me she would receive the SAINT award. I saw her up close and personal and admired her every move. She stayed positive, with loving patience.
We had an opportunity to catch up and talk about life without Roger. She is busy as ever, working on a variety of projects. Our conversation centered on the play, Black and White Love written and produced by Jackie Taylor now showing at the Black Ensemble Theater.
The play brilliantly captures the interracial love story of Roger and Chaz. The cast includes a main couple and four other couples as their story is dramatized to music. The story in the form of a musical goes through the challenges of a terminal illness, and how this couple was challenged and conquered. Roger had thyroid cancer that eventually took his jawbone. The arch of the story is as long as they loved they were okay.
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NDIGO: What have you been doing lately?
CHAZ: I am writing a book, that is a semi memoir. But I can’t talk about it too much. The book will be about life before Roger and life with Roger. I will discuss the spiritual qualities of our lives.
NDIGO: I have read that you are working on a movie, The Emmitt Till Story.
CHAZ: I am producing a movie on the life of Emmitt Till. We are the only filmmaker working with the Till estate. Our story will be told in Mamie Till’s [Emmitt’ late mother] own words. We are developing the movie with the script, production team and interviewing actors. We have acquired the intellectual property.
NDIGO: I understand Jay Z and Wil Smith are also working on The Emmitt Till Story. What do you think about that?
CHAZ: I am glad others are involved. It will help race relations and some good will come from the tragedy.
Chaz is becoming a movie producer
NDIGO: What else are you doing?
CHAZ: We are working on a TV production, “Great Movie Series.”
NDIGO: How is Roger’s online site?
CHAZ: Roger and I founded RogerEbert.com. We were ahead of the curve. We urged the Sun Times to become active online Today, we have over 40 movie critics from all over the world. There are four editors and two assistant editors. We have foreign correspondents in France, Brazil, Egypt, Australia, Mexico, Poland, Canada, England, South Korea and the Philippines. All of these people are writing about movies from their perspectives. The site attracts 30% of the traffic from outside of the United States and I asked correspondents from all over the world to share their point of view.
NDIGO: What did you think about Jackie Taylor’s play based on you and Roger?
CHAZ: I like it every much. I was there for opening night. I am pleased. It shows how important music was to the both of us and what an important role it played in our lives. Often music can take on serious issues and talk about them in seriously. The casting was well done. Rashid Dawen plays me and Kevin Pollack plays Roger. They both do a fine job. During intermission many people thought that I was on stage playing myself.
Jackie told our story. We traveled the world and found racism unacceptable. The plays points out things maybe many didn’t know. Roger lived for his grandchildren. He had cancer when we married and it had been in remission for 10 years and reoccurred after we married. The story shares the depth of our living and the challenges we faced as a couple. The story is about our life and our love. Jackie did a fine job and I was amazed at how she presented it. Music was important to us. Our first date was at the Lyric Opera. We loved music from the Opera to the Blues.
The Eberts on the red carpet.
NDIGO: Jackie is always great, I wondered if the story should have been a drama. The play, deals with so many serious issues, illness and eventually death.
CHAZ: There are a lot of things you can do with music that you just can’t do with a drama.