I am not SCHMO blown away by this theme. It is certainly clever, but I was able to enter ROGEREBERT without fully understanding why by looking at the clue. The revealer, INITIALLY was not an aha moment (or even an Omaha moment) for me, more of an "ohhhhh. Oh, well" moment.
The best part is the way the first word of each clue re-reads on getting the trick. "Regent" turning into "R.E. gent." "Malady" turning into "M.A. lady," and so on. But all four names are old crossword standbys (and very old in some cases).
Anyway, it was a PAIN to get started, even though EMMA was a lovely reference (14A: Literary matchmaker - how nice it's not Yente from Fiddler on the Roof). I also was stuck by DOHA, even though I've seen it plenty of times. I tried to convince myself that it was an alternate spelling of Sanaa (Yemen, not Qatar). I really got going in the SW corner, moving down from OTS and CPAS, and then ECHELONS.
Clues I liked:
8D: Digital communication, for short? (ASL)
49A: Get blubbery (CRY)
I'm not sure what to make of the recent pair of clues like 48D: Beat it! (BONGO). Yesterday it was "Hit it!" (PINATA). What do people think? IMALLEARS!
Overall, I'm left flat. This felt like a Wednesday. Not enough of a fun trick for a Thursday. Let's hope the rest of the turn picks up the pace!