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Critic Roger Ebert to limit film reviews due to cancer

image captionRoger Ebert celebrated 46 years with the Chicago Sun-Times this week

Renowned US film critic Roger Ebert is to take a "leave of presence" and write fewer reviews after revealing he is facing a fresh battle with cancer.

Ebert, who has written for the Chicago Sun-Times for 46 years, lost his voice and much of his lower jaw after suffering from thyroid cancer and complications from surgery.

Writing in his blog, he said while he normally produced around 200 critiques a year, in 2012 he wrote more than 300.

He added: "I must slow down now."

Explaining his decision, he added: "I am not going away. My intent is to continue to write selected reviews but to leave the rest to a talented team of writers handpicked and greatly admired by me."

"What's more, I'll be able at last to do what I've always fantasized about doing: reviewing only the movies I want to review."

Ebert, 70, suffered a hip fracture in December. He said the "painful fracture that made it difficult for me to walk has recently been revealed to be a cancer.

"It is being treated with radiation, which has made it impossible for me to attend as many movies as I used to."

Pulitzer prize

Ebert was named the most powerful critic in America by Forbes magazine in 2007.

The author of more than 15 books about the movies, he began his career at the Chicago Sun-Times in 1967. The same year, his first book, a history of the University of Illinois was published by the University's press.

image captionThe Film Center of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago was renamed in honour of Siskel in 2000

He began an association with US "sexploitation" director Russ Meyer and co-wrote several of his movies.

In 1975, Ebert became the first film critic to win the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism.

But it was in the 1970s and 1980s, through his partnership and verbal sparring with fellow critic Gene Siskel that Ebert became a household name.

The duo were known for their thumbs up/thumbs down reviews until Siskel's death in 1999.

Ebert's TV career was curtailed in 2002 when he was diagnosed with papillary thyroid cancer.

Further surgery in 2006 resulted in a portion of his jaw being removed, after which he lost the ability to speak and to eat.

Writing in his latest blog, he said: "It really stinks that the cancer has returned and that I have spent too many days in the hospital.

"So, on bad days I may write about the vulnerability that accompanies illness. On good days, I may wax ecstatic about a movie so good it transports me beyond illness."

Ebert said he would also be relaunching his website and unveiling a new project - Ebert Digital - which he, along with his wife Chaz, will run.

The movie critic is also the subject matter of a new documentary made by Hoop Dreams director Steve James, which is being produced by Martin Scorsese.

Ebert said: "I am humbled that anyone would even think to do it, but I am also grateful."