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Movie Critic and TV Personality Was 70



Bobby Rivers, who hosted Food Network’s “Top 5” and VH1’s celebrity talk show “Watch Bobby Rivers,” died at 70 on Tuesday in Minneapolis, according to WISN.

His sister Betsy Rivers also posted on Facebook, “Bobby passed away last night and is no longer in any pain.”

Many journalists and critics paid tribute to him on social media. Michael Musto wrote, “Bobby Rivers was an openly gay trailblazer. He was funny, campy, knowledgeable and groundbreaking.”

Stephen Whitty wrote, “Bobby was a very funny, very knowledgeable journalist, and a tireless advocate for more diversity, particularly in the classic film world. (His piece on race and ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ was a keeper.)”

TCM also remembered Rivers, saying “We will miss him sharing his love of the classics with the #TCMParty community and his thoughtful essays on his blog.”

Originally from Los Angeles, Rivers attended Marquette University in Wisconsin. Rivers made his start at Milwaukee’s radio station WQFM. He was hired as a morning newsman, becoming a popular on-air personality. When he was fired in July 1978, over 1,000 listeners signed three separate petitions to keep him. Rivers renegotiated his contract and stayed at WQFM for another year.

He later made his television debut in 1979 on WISN-TV as Milwaukee’s first Black film critic on television. He was also a contributor on the city’s nationally syndicated “PM Magazine.” By 1984, Rivers became a co-host and associate producer of a live weekday show on WISN until its cancellation in 1985.

After being hired by VH1 in 1987, executives were impressed by him and gave Rivers his own show titled “Watch Bobby Rivers” the following year. He interviewed several prominent guests, including Paul McCartney, Meryl Streep and Mel Gibson. He hosted veejay segments with Rosie O’Donnell on VH1 until 1990.

Rivers later became a lifestyle and entertainment reporter on WNBC TV’s “Weekend Today in New York” and WNYW-TV’s “Good Day New York” in 1992. By 2000, he became the entertainment editor on ABC News’ and Lifetime TV’s “Lifetime Live,” working on camera with its hosts Deborah Roberts and Dana Reeve. Following the show’s cancellation, Rivers hosted “Top 5” on Food Network in 2002.

He also dabbled in acting, appearing on “The Sopranos” and The Onion News Network’s video podcast “In the Know.” He wrote about film and television on his blog Bobby Rivers TV, which he launched in 2011. His last post was on Nov. 19, where he wrote about Colman Domingo’s performance in “Rustin.”


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