Ivan and Jason Reitman draw laughs

Father-son filmmakers speak at Just Comedy confab

MONTREAL - An on-stage conversation between father-and-son filmmakers Ivan and Jason Reitman drew many laughs and a standing ovation from industry attendees of the Just Comedy conference here Thursday afternoon.

Asked by his son about whose work gets a veteran like him excited these days, Ivan Reitman mentioned a current industry darling. "It was wonderful to see Judd Apatow's movies," he said, explaining he feels Apatow seems to take the same approach to material as he does, namely a unique, independent one.

Reitman senior also chided Hollywood studios a bit for being too focused on blockbusters. "99% of their resources is in finding the next Batman," he said. "Once in a while, a 'Juno' comes along. But they don't (usually) really nurture that," complementing his son on that film's surprise success.

Son Jason, meanwhile, drew laughs when he recalled how Miramax came close to making "Thank You for Smoking" with him, but then suggested the protagonist go work for the Red Cross at the end of the movie.

He said he then had to wait years to do the film he really wanted to do while rejecting teenage romantic comedies and other films.

"'Dude Where Is My Car' came in twice," he deadpanned.

Asked how father Ivan had influenced him and his work, Jason Reitman had a simple reply: "I saw "Animal House" way too young."

The older Reitman reminisced about how Bill Murray didn't commit to "Meatballs" until a day before shooting began. And he thanked Murray for easing his initial nervousness about the directing job. "You should relax a bit," Murray suggested, he recalled. "You make people (in the movie) nervous."

One of the anecdotes industry insiders that enjoyed in particular was how Reitman senior and Sydney Pollak went back and forth over who should direct "Rain Man." In the end, Reitman started working on "Twins," only to find out that Pollak wouldn't do "Rain Man" either. Reitman said he was on Ventura Boulevard back then, and by coincidence, Pollak pulled up next to him, shrugged his shoulders and mouthed the words "I'm sorry."