Howard Remembers Ivan Reitman, Hollywood Legend and Friend of the Stern Show

75-year-old “Ghostbusters” director and “Private Parts” executive producer passes away Saturday in his sleep

February 14, 2022

Howard said goodbye to Hollywood legend and friend of the Stern Show Ivan Reitman on Monday morning. The 75-year-old “Ghostbusters” director and “Private Parts” executive producer passed away peacefully in his sleep Saturday night at his Montecito, Calif., home.

Though best known for directing classic comedies like “Twins,” “Dave,” “Kindergarten Cop,” and four beloved Bill Murray films — “Stripes,” “Meatballs,” and the first two “Ghostbusters” — Reitman was also an accomplished producer who helped bring to celluloid everything from “National Lampoon’s Animal House” and “Up in the Air” to Howard’s own 1997 biopic “Private Parts.”

“We got very close during the making of ‘Private Parts.’ He’s always been a mentor to me. He’s always been a terrific guy to me. He’s a huge fan of the show, [which] just tickled me,” Howard said Monday morning.

“This guy saved my life,” he continued. “I felt such pressure to get that film ‘Private Parts’ done. Either I wrote, or I wrote with, or had other people write … 21 different scripts.”

As Howard remembered it, his agent Don Buchwald had run into Ivan at a famous deli in Los Angeles. The two got to talking about the cinematic adaptation of Howard’s autobiography “Private Parts” and Ivan, a fan of the Stern Show, quickly offered some advice. “The next thing I knew, Ivan was on the phone with me. He said, ‘Listen, I read your book. I got the whole movie. This is what should happen,’” Howard recalled. “I said, ‘Jesus Christ, you’re right. It’s simple. That’s it.’”

Reitman signed on as an executive producer and quickly brought in the perfect writer (Len Blum), director (Betty Thomas), and producing team for the project. “Ivan orchestrated that movie, got everyone onboard, and he watched every fucking daily,” Howard explained.

The accomplished Hollywood filmmaker wasn’t shy about giving Howard—who played himself on screen—some much-needed acting advice, either. “He goes, ‘What the fuck are you doing? … You’re ad-libbing on set, but the other actors … need to know when to come in,’” Howard recalled. “He said, ‘Go up to your room and learn your lines.’”

The rest, as Howard described, was history. “Private Parts” found critical success and Reitman apparently liked the film so much he regretted not directing it himself. He and Howard became friends after that with Ivan visiting the Stern Show multiple times over the years to regale listeners with behind-the-scenes stories of his Hollywood exploits. While Howard and Ivan haven’t always remained in close contact, the two apparently reconnected about a month back and vowed to get together soon. “He was so happy to hear from me. He sounded great,” Howard said.

Ivan Reitman was born in Komarno, a town in what is now Slovakia, to Jewish parents who survived Nazism and later communism in Eastern Europe before eventually relocating their family to Toronto. Ivan studied film in Canada before working Off Broadway and getting involved with the National Lampoon and eventual “Animal House” collaborators Harold Ramis and John Belushi. He went on to direct and produce dozens of popular films over the span of his six decade TV and film career. Ivan is survived by three children, Catherine, Caroline, and accomplished film director and fellow Stern Show guest Jason Reitman.

“Ivan, rest in peace. It sucks. I’m very sad to hear that he’s gone,” Howard concluded. “Seventy-five years old … to me that seems way too young.”