Reitmans gave film plenty of 'Air' time

Ivan, left, and Jason Reitman


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NEW YORK -- "Up in the Air" might look like a romantic comedy, but in some ways it's really a father-son relationship story.

That reflects its origins with "Ghostbusters" producer-director Ivan Reitman, one of "Air's" four producers, and his writer-director son Jason Reitman.

"Air," a contender for Oscar nominations in such races as best picture, director, adapted screenplay and actor, won the best screenplay award Sunday at the Golden Globes.

"He called me five or six years ago," Ivan says of Jason, who was directing shorts at the time. "He had read this book by Walter Kirn and liked it and had spoken to him."

Jason told Ivan: "You should look at this. Maybe it's something you could direct, or at least pick up the rights, because it's something

I think I know what to do with."

That's when Ivan was urging Jason to write his first feature.

"He had put off doing a feature for a while, perhaps because he was concerned about comparisons with me or accusations about nepotism," the elder Reitman says. "He really wanted to go at it in his own way, where it was very clear that it was his own creativity that was going to make him or break him."

Ivan, partners with Tom Pollock in the Montecito Picture Co., had the company buy Kirn's book.

"Sheldon Turner was involved with that very first draft when we bought it," he says. Jason and Turner share the film's screenplay credit.

Why didn't Ivan direct it himself?

"I could never get a screenplay I was happy with," he says. "We kept developing it -- first under our DreamWorks deal and then, when DreamWorks became part of Paramount, we still held on to it."

Meanwhile, Jason wrote and directed his first feature, 2005's "Thank You for Smoking." Then he read Diablo Cody's script "Juno" and decided to direct that, resulting in an Oscar nom.

After "Juno's" festival screening in Toronto, Ivan told him he was ready to tackle "Air."

"He started rewriting some of the work he had done initially five-odd years ago," Ivan says. "He did not read anybody else's drafts. He just basically took it and created this really fresh, amazing piece of work."

The timing, however, wasn't good. "The draft was ready just as DreamWorks was leaving Paramount," Ivan says. "Basically, (DreamWorks head) Stacey Snider, who had read the script and loved it, said: 'You're going to have to just go through Paramount. We won't be able to co-finance this movie.' "

Montecito remained at Paramount, Ivan says, "because there was going to be more development opportunity for our company. We made something like five movies last year with them."

All key players at Paramount were keen on making the film. "This was actually the easiest green light I've had in years," Ivan says.

Although Ivan enjoys producing -- he's a producer on Atom Egoyan's upcoming thriller "Chloe" -- he is happiest directing, which he hasn't done since 2006's "My Super Ex-

Girlfriend." But he could be back in action with "Ghostbusters 3" if all goes well.

"There's been an enormous amount of chatter about it on the Internet," he says, speaking last week at the National Board of Review dinner in New York, where "Air" received a best picture award.

The "Ghostbusters" screenplay is being written, Ivan says, and he's optimistic about making it during the next year. And, yes, he'd like to direct it. But remember, "We still have to get everybody to sign off, which we have not."

Although it has been 21 years since "Ghostbusters 2," he's not worried about bringing a third film into the marketplace.

"There seems to be an enormous amount of affection for the story and for the enterprise," Ivan says, citing Sony's successful release last year of "Ghostbusters: The Video Game." "What we have to do is make sure that even people who are not particular fans will be knocked out by any movie we're going to make, and that's our goal."

As for directing again, there's no question Ivan is up for that.

"I love the day-to-day action of being a director," he says. "I'm very creatively involved in the movies I produce, and sometimes it's, frankly, easier to be the director if you're going to be that involved. And I think I'm ready again."

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