For Diablo Cody, flirting with success pays off
Tinseltown is adorned with many a unique and sparkly success story. But how Minneapolis stripper Brook Busey became Oscar-winning Hollywood screenwriter Diablo Cody has to be this year’s shiniest. The following is a recap of how one sassy lady with a marquee-ready pen name, a raunchy back story, an original creative voice and a funny, moving screenplay called “Juno” made her way from the Skyway Lounge to the Kodak Theatre. (Some quotes are from September 2006.)
-- Jay A. Fernandez
While Googling profane names for the female anatomy, L.A. manager-producer Mason Novick stumbles upon Cody’s blog (title appropriately unprintable), which humorously details her days dancing in clubs, performing in peep shows and doing phone sex. He loves her style and asks if she has any other material lying around. She sends him an autobiographical account of her sex industry experiences, and with the help of a lit agent they sell it to New York publisher Gotham Books. Novick suggests that she try writing a screenplay.
Feb. 14, 2005
Cody sends Novick a semiautobiographical script she wrote called “Juno,” her first shot at the form. “The character is me, the minor details of suburbia are me, and the script is kind of based on a relationship I had in high school,” she later says. The pregnancy, however, is fictional.
Mandate Pictures options “Juno.” As the buzz-generating script makes the Hollywood rounds, several studio suitors try to hire Cody. She eventually signs a blind, two-script deal at Warner Bros. for mid-six figures.
Dec. 29, 2005
Cody’s memoir, “Candy Girl: A Year in the Life of an Unlikely Stripper,” hits bookstores. It later draws interest for a potential film that Cody hopes to adapt. “That kind of stuns me,” she later says . “It’s a very raunchy book. It’s a dirty, dirty, embarrassing little trifle, and I’m shocked that anyone thinks it would successfully translate to the screen.”
March 20, 2006
Cody appears on “Late Show With David Letterman” to discuss her book at the host’s request (Letterman had made it his only official Book Club selection) and utterly charms the craggy 58-year-old. “I was terrified,” she says about her appearance. She jokes during a subsequent Letterman appearance about how it would be an ill-advised career move to turn her book into “Juggs: The Movie.”
Dec. 13, 2006
Steven Spielberg hires Cody to write a TV pilot, “The United States of Tara,” for DreamWorks Television and Showtime from his original idea about a woman with dissociative identity disorder (the pilot is slated to start shooting in April). Around the same time, Cody also picks up a TV deal at Sony.
THE ‘JUNO’ EFFECT
Feb. 14, 2007
“Juno” starts shooting in Vancouver with director Jason Reitman (“Thank You for Smoking”) at the helm after director Brad Silberling (“Moonlight Mile”) leaves the project when producers deny his casting choice for the lead role. Actress Ellen Page later gets the part.
Cody sells Universal on her pitch for “Girly Style,” a female-centric college-set comedy she developed in response to that summer’s “Superbad.” A few weeks later she sells another original screenplay, the horror-comedy “Jennifer’s Body,” to Fox.
Dec. 5, 2007
“Juno” opens in limited release. One day before, Cody’s split from her husband, Jonny, is outed on the Internet when observers notice that his name, which had been tattooed on her right arm, has been inked over with flowers.
Cody earns an Academy Award nomination for original screenplay, as “Juno” takes a surprising slot in the picture category as well (Reitman and Page are also nominated). That night, Cody returns triumphantly to “Letterman” and quips, “phone sex is great training for a screenwriter.” Three days later, “Juno” crosses the $100-million mark.
Already a Golden Globe and Film Independent’s Spirit Award nominee (and later Spirit winner for best first screenplay), Cody wins the Writers Guild of America award for “Juno.”
Cody becomes the second screenwriter in a row (after “Little Miss Sunshine’s” Michael Arndt) to win the original screenplay Oscar with her first produced script. “This is for the writers,” she says, clutching her trophy on stage at the Kodak. Sales of Final Draft screenplay software expected to skyrocket among the lap-dancing community.