Rob Reiner visits Chicago, talks real estate and film career

'And So It Goes' director Rob Reiner assesses some real estate as well as his career as filmmaker/creator of a sense of place

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CHICAGO

Tony Madonia, real estate agent, watched the front doors of the Legacy at Millennium Park. For a guy who sells luxury condos, he did not seem especially relaxed, so we reminded him that he was not being asked to sell a $1.6 million apartment to director Rob Reiner. Just, you know, show him around the place. Madonia asked to be reminded why he was doing this.

The reason, he was told, was: Reiner has this new movie, "And So It Goes," starring Michael Douglas as a contemptuous real estate agent who falls for lovable Diane Keaton, and so it seemed like a fun idea to tour real estate and talk real estate with Reiner. Also, if anything tied together the work of Rob Reiner, whose best films remain as iconic as the genres are disparate, it may be a sense of place: The labyrinthian concert halls in "This is Spinal Tap" (1984); the military courtroom in "A Few Good Men" (1992); the fairy-tale castles in "The Princess Bride" (1987); Katz's Delicatessen in "When Harry Met Sally ..." (1989); those overgrown backwoods along the railroad tracks in "Stand By Me" (1986).

"And So It Goes," set in a placid rom-com New England so rarely seen in film nowadays it should be called NoraEphronville, is not as memorable. And sure, the idea of taking Reiner to see real estate is contrived.

But then so is "And So It Goes."

Reiner arrived for the showing in a loose black shirt, black pants and black sneakers.

"Taller than I thought," Madonia whispered as Reiner approached, hand extended, cheerful, gigantic smile.

"This building," Reiner said, "what's the story with this building?"

We got into an elevator. Madonia explained: 355 units, 80 percent sold, 72 stories, finished in 2009.

"Pretty, pretty good," Reiner said, offering that he lived in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Brentwood. Also, in Malibu. Also, he had recently bought a place in the West Village in Manhattan. "But my LA place, historic. First owned by Henry Fonda, built in the '30s, Jane and Peter were born there. Sold to Paul Henreid — Victor Laszlo in 'Casablanca' — and then Norman Lear and then to me."

Madonia nodded.

"What floor are we going to again?" Reiner asked.

"52," Madonia said.

"52!" Reiner said.

We entered.

It was impressive. A short jog down a dramatically lit hallway opened onto a panorama of downtown Chicago.

"Very nice!" Reiner boomed. "Look at this. The park there, the lake there. How much again?"

"$1.6 million," Madonia said.

"A steal at $1.6 million," Reiner said, playing along with the very thin premise for this story. "I need to see around the rest of the apartment." We left the living room and found a bedroom overlooking Monroe Street.

"OK, now, see, I think this is a selling point," Reiner said, as deadpan as a former Meathead could muster. "If you are the kind of person who is interested in having people watch you make love" — he gestured at the floor-to-ceiling bedroom windows and across the street at a row of similar see-into rooms — "here is your apartment. People see you, you see them.. You ever go to the High Line in New York? You walk along, you walk along, suddenly there's a building and I swear to you, you can see people (expletive) in the windows! It's weird. It's a thing, I guess. But it's weird. This place, though, beautiful. You live in Chicago, this is nice."

He walked back to the living room, dropped into a chair and took in the sweeping view. It was the kind of home that rarely turned up in the films of Rob Reiner. It projected a kind of urbane, executive power. It was the more like the kind of place where a Michael Douglas character might have lived in a Ridley Scott movie.

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