Jeffrey Lyons is denying snipes by fellow movie critics that he used influence to get his son Ben the plum job of replacing Roger Ebert in the show "At the Movies" with Richard Roeper.
Ebert and Roeper left the ABC program within 24 hours of each other this week, and Disney immediately hired Ben Lyons, who's 26, and Ben Mankiewicz as hosts.
Critics have no beef with the erudite Mankiewicz, an expert on animation and other film genres who's a host on the Turner Classic Movies channel. But they say Ben Lyons, an E! channel personality, doesn't have the experience to replace Ebert, a Pulitzer Prize winner who created the famous "thumbs up, thumbs down" review show with Gene Siskel in 1975.
Jeffrey Lyons told us: "[My son] Ben and I are on two separate networks and different coasts. If anything, I'd have less pull getting him on."
But Ben Lyons admitted, "It has definitely helped to have my dad to open some doors for me. But you have to do the work yourself."