She was named "Entertainer of the Year" in our local newspaper...
Cody 'cracked a door open and everything was Technicolor'
If screenwriter Diablo Cody makes good on her promise, she could be a presence in American filmmaking for years to come.
By COLIN COVERT, Star Tribune
Sometimes choosing the Star Tribune's Artist of the Year is contentious. This time it was easy. If screenwriter Diablo Cody makes good on her promise, she could be a presence in American filmmaking for years to come.
"Juno," her comedy about a knocked-up Minnesota teenager, knocked over the nation's top critics like tenpins. It was named one of the 10 best films of 2007 by the American Film Institute and the National Board of Review, which gave Cody its best original screenplay prize. Cody is up for the Golden Globes and Spirit Awards screenwriting prizes, and a front-runner for an Academy Award. And so far "Juno" has been a staggering success at art-house box offices.
All this for a first script she dashed off in two months. OK, beginner's luck. Except that in the past two years she's sold three more original screenplays, script-doctored a fourth project, and was handpicked by (cue the heavenly choir) Steven Spielberg to write and executive-produce his Showtime series "The United States of Tara," about a housewife (Toni Collette) with multiple personalities. Blurring the line between screenwriter and celebrity, she just joined Stephen King as a regular back-page columnist for Entertainment Weekly. Meanwhile, she's at work on a book about her adventures in Hollywood.
"I feel like I'm living 'The Wizard of Oz,'" she said. "There was a day when I cracked a door open and everything was Technicolor. It was a very frightening place but a very beautiful place, too, as Dorothy says." At times, she said, she feels as splintered and scattered as the heroine of the Spielberg series.
To nitpickers who point out that our honoree was a Chicagoan through 2003, when she moved to Minneapolis as a 24-year-old office worker, and that she made Los Angeles her permanent residence last July, we say, fair enough. But it was here that the young woman born Brook Busey became the multimedia phenomenon known as Diablo Cody. It was here that she began stripping on a lark, gathering up the experiences that informed her popular, profane blog. It was here that she wove those battlefield tales into her 2006 memoir "Candy Girl," that she became a professional writer for City Pages and that she banged out "Juno" in the Starbucks annex at the Crystal SuperTarget.
"I became a writer in Minneapolis; that's why I called myself a Minnesota-based writer," she said. "You can't get rid of me!"
"Juno" is a cornucopia of references to Stillwater, Ridgedale Mall and the Vikings. Her next film, the comic horror flick "Jennifer's Body," is set in rural Minnesota. She's also producing it, and if state officials offer the right incentives, she'd love to film it here in March, she said.
Cody has already been approached to direct one of her own scripts and passed because she didn't feel ready. But directing is her goal, and it probably won't be long before she yells "Action!"
"To me, the best aspect of the whole circus is that I am female and this doesn't happen to women very often," she said. "Women's stories are just not being told. We need a female Holden Caulfield or a female Travis Bickle. The iconic characters of film are mostly male.
"A lot of times if you write a chick flick they'll bring a guy in to do a 'guy polish,' to establish a more jocular tone that will bring the boyfriends and husbands in alongside the women. Whereas I've never heard of a 'chick polish.' They're never nervous about alienating women."
That rankles Cody, and she hopes to change the ghettoization of female characters. It appears she's being taken seriously. Last month she was the only neophyte, and the only woman, on a screenwriting panel with Oscar winners Paul Haggis, Ronald Harwood and Ben Affleck.
Now she has the contacts, if she needs them, to get some pointers for her own Oscar speech.