Director Jason Reitman comes out of dad's shadow

Tue Dec 4, 2007 5:44pm EST
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By Bob Tourtellotte

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Director Jason Reitman knew life changed when his first movie "Thank You for Smoking" was a hit. Not because of reviews or box office success but because his father, director Ivan Reitman, began asking for advice.

The younger Reitman, 30, sees his second low-budget comedy, "Juno," open in U.S. theaters on Wednesday after becoming a darling at festivals. Last week it earned four independent Spirit Award nominations, including a bid for best film.

Despite his success, Reitman told Reuters he was concerned his latest offering would fail to live up to the first. But offsetting that worry was the fact he had already impressed his dad, whose work ranges from directing the 1984 hit "Ghost Busters" to producing the 2003 comedy "Old School." After "Thank You for Smoking," his father began regularly seeking his advice about movie-making.

"I've spent 30 years asking him for advice on any big decision I've ever had. The fact he would now come to me for advice is," Reitman reflected, "wonderful beyond words."

Reitman seems down to earth for a young filmmaker. He answers questions thoughtfully and tells stories with self-deprecating humor. He is not a fixture at Hollywood nightclubs but a family guy -- married with one child.

In fact, he was sought out to direct "Juno" at roughly the same time his wife became pregnant, and the timing seemed perfect.

"Juno" is an unconventional teen romance dealing with marital and family relationships. It stars relative newcomer Ellen Page as a 16-year-old who becomes pregnant, decides to have the baby, then give it up via a prearranged adoption.

NO 'SMOKING'   Continued...

<p>Jason Reitman, who directed the movie "Juno", poses at the movie's premiere at the Village theatre in Westwood, California December 3, 2007. The movie opens in the U.S. on December 5. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni</p>