KPRC’s Reiner to pursue family business
Jake Reiner is trading one H-town for another.
The Los Angeles-born son of a famous actor/ director (Rob Reiner) and grandson of another (Carl Reiner), who opted not to get involved in the family business in favor of being a TV news reporter, is leaving his gig at Houston NBC affiliate KPRCChannel 2 to return to Hollywood. His last day at the station will be Aug. 3.
But it’s more than a matter of simply changing stations or trading hurricanes for earthquakes and the Astros for the Dodgers. Reiner, 27, wants out of the news business and into show business.
“I’ve always had a passion for acting and performing,” he said Monday in a phone interview. “When I was growing up in LA, and in high school there, I was in all the plays and the musicals. I took improv classes, took standup comedy classes and I was always wanting to perform.”
Moonlighting on stage
Now, Reiner — who has been taking improv classes at Houston’s Station Theater and performing locally since moving here in early 2016 — is going to get the chance to do what he originally dreamed of doing a decade ago.
He says he decided not to pursue acting professionally after he failed to get into NYU’s Tisch School of Drama after high school. Instead, he indulged his second love — sports — and studied broadcasting at Syracuse University. “I’m a huge Dodgers fan. I grew up listening to Vin Scully and idolized him. Baseball was something I was passionate about,” he said.
Reiner also didn’t want to hear what people
would say if he went into acting. He figured it would be something along the lines of, “Of course, he wants to go into acting. His father and grandfather did it,” Reiner supposed. “And what’s that going to say? What are people going to say about that? That did play on my mind, so I was like, ‘Well, maybe I’ll try this other avenue and see where it takes me.’ ”
While in college though, he discovered an appreciation for news that didn’t involve balls, gloves and sweaty locker rooms. “Growing up, I never was really interested in the news. I never really watched the news. It was only after I was at college that I really developed a passion for it,” he said. “It feels like a form of performance and I got that adrenaline rush from doing that, anchoring and reporting.”
After college, he spent two and a half years at a station in Salinas, Calif., and then got the call to make the leap to Houston in late 2015.
“KPRC was the only top 10 (market) station that I got a look from and the only one that offered me a gig and I was absolutely floored by that,” he said. “I never thought I’d make that jump from (market) 125 to what, at the time, was number 10.” (Houston is now the seventh largest TV media market, according to Nielsen.)
As much as he is appreciative of KPRC and Texas — “I love Houston,” he says, “the people are just so nice here” — the rush he now gets from reporting the news is not as intense as he’d like it to be.
“I realized the most fun that I had reporting was when I could be creative and do interesting live shots, and ad lib,” he said. “For instance, when I covered the Super Bowl they sent me to Philadelphia to cover the Eagles fans. I got to do so many creative live shots where I got my hair sprayed green on TV and got mobbed by the crowd ... . The adrenaline of having a live audience and getting that direct feedback almost immediately when you’re doing it, I was like, ‘yeah.’ Ultimately, I wasn’t getting that on a consistent basis from doing news.”
Reiner has dabbled in film acting before, largely with small roles in his dad’s movies, including “Flipped,” “Being Charlie” and the upcoming “Shock and Awe,” starring Tommy Lee Jones, Woody Harrelson and James Marsden. Fittingly for Reiner, the film — hitting theaters July 13 — is set in the world of journalism.
He has no particular role prompting him to make the move to L.A. now and says, like a lot of other actors, he will take acting classes and get involved with improv. But he concedes he has something the majority of his twentysomething aspiring thespians don’t: connections.
“I have benefited from those connections,” he said. “But I think what’s most valuable is what you do with those connections, how you rise to the occasion. Even though a lot of people looked at my rise in news as being attributed to the connections, I felt that I had a chip on my shoulder to be like, ‘You know what? I want to prove to everyone that I belong here and that I’m good enough on my own.’ ”
Beyond career considerations and love of the Dodgers, Reiner says it’s also a matter of just wanting to go home.
“I really want people to know that I’m going home not only because I have this passion for acting and performing (but) I want to be closer to my family,” he said. “My girlfriend lives in L.A. and I love her very much and I want to be closer to her. I would say more than anything, it’s a quality of life decision.”
But there are things about Houston that he will take with him.
“Coming from Los Angeles, you have a certain view of the world. It’s completely different here,” he said. “There is such a sense of community ... . The way I really got to see that, and see what Houston people are made of, was Hurricane Harvey ... . That’s what people should think about when they think of Houston.”
Jake Reiner joined KPRC-Channel 2 as a reporter in 2016.