This stuff pisses me off: I’m reading Empire Magazine, issue 247, where there’s an interview with Jason Reitman about his new flick Up In the Air. Q is kissing Reitman’s ass, lauding him for his skill at taking “unlikeable characters who do unlikeable things and make us like them” and singles out Aaron Eckhart’s character Nick Naylor in the movie Thank You for Smoking. Reitman tells the interviewer he’s really fascinated by these types of characters, saying
I like humanzing tricky characters
but at no point in the interview does he (or the interviewer) acknowledge Chrisopher Buckley, the man who actually wrote the book Thank You for Smoking and created the wonderfully amoral and sleezy-slick tobacco lobbyist Naylor. The movie script hewed quite closely to Buckley’s book, but the interview makes it sound as if Reitman came up with both story and characters. It’s true that Reitman did a marvelous job directing the movie; it’s funny as hell, dark and cynical, perfectly cast and probably the best vehicle for Aaron Eckhart since In the Company of Men, but at the end of the day, it’s Buckley’s story.
Reitman appears to be a gifted director of actors, who will hopefully go on to do great things, but this isn’t Kubrick creating something uniquely singular from someone else’s source material, it’s a pretty straightforward adaptation of a good, funny book. Reitman is pushing hs new movie here, and may be more excitable than usual, so I’m looking at Empire magazine here. Pay the writer*, says Harlan Ellison. At the very least, pay the writer respect.
QUICK UPDATE: The Reitman interview in Sight & Sound is far better.