LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) – Ignatiy Vishnevetsky raised a lot of eyebrows when he was announced as the new host of "Ebert Presents At the Movies."
But the 24-year-old critic for the film website Mubi and the Chicago Reader says he is not daunted by the prospect of filling the massive shoes left by the man who hired him for the spot -- former host Roger Ebert.
"You have to be the best you that you can possibly be," Vishnevetsky tells The Hollywood Reporter. "There is a legacy here. But the best way to honor that legacy is not to be Roger Ebert or Gene Siskel."
Already comparisons are being drawn between the Moscow-born Vishnevetsky and former host Siskel, who died of cancer in 1999.
"Everyone has been characterizing me as this cold analytical egghead guy," says Vishnevetsky "But I'm a man of extreme passion."
Besides, he adds, "I lean more toward Ebert who I liked more as a critic."
Vishnevetsky replaces radio critic Elvis Mitchell and will host along with 38-year-old Christy Lemire, film critic for the Associated Press. Ebert will contribute a weekly segment using a computer-generated voice.
"I know it's a big deal," Vishnevetsky says. "But when someone gives you this type of opportunity it makes you want to work a lot harder."
While Vishnevetsky promises to "continue the tradition" of onscreen squabbles started with Siskel and Ebert, he says he gets along famously with his new co-host.
"It helps we get along well because otherwise it would be just endless, endless clashes," Vishnevetsky says.
Meanwhile Vishnevetsky insists he will not be held back by his tricky last name. Roger Ebert's press release announcing the appointment even came with a phonetic guide ("Ig.nah.tee Vish.na.vet.ski").
"It's spelled exactly as it's pronounced," Vishnevetsky says. "And even if someone misspells the name, they remember it."