Diablo Cody pays the price of fame, too
NEW YORK ó Being the most famous stripper-turned-screenwriter in the world isn’t always as pleasant as it may sound.
Diablo Cody, whose blog-to-riches fairy tale culminated in an Academy Award win for “Juno,” has spent the past few months dominating a tiny little niche of Hollywood stardom: the celebrity writer. Not even wordsmith heavies Paul Haggis, Wes Anderson or Charlie Kaufman have stood in a spotlight so bright ó but then, none of them had the allure of a pole-dancing past, punkish attitude or surprising smash-hit, Oscar-worthy pregnancy comedy.
And in Cody’s case, there’s a downside: The very things that make her star unique are suddenly being panned and scrutinized. From tabloid newspapers to well-trafficked celeb- and media-sniping blogs, Cody’s meteoric rise has made her something of a target.
The first-time scriptwriter from Lemont, Ill., demonstrated her no-nonsense, rebellious personality last week when she took to her MySpace blog to vent about the $1 million diamond-laced shoes designed for her by Stuart Weitzman to wear on Oscar’s red carpet.
“They’re using me to publicize their stupid shoes and NOBODY ASKED ME,” wrote Cody, who ultimately wore gold flats. “I would never consent to a lame publicity stunt at a time when I already want to hide.”
Cody, who has been unapologetic and candid about her colorful life, drew praise in the blogosphere for her remarks at the time. But in the days that followed, Weitzman told the celebrity Web site TMZ that Cody actually selected the shoes herself, and bloggers (and subsequent commenters) had their fun calling her out for what they saw as diva behavior.
The New York Post chose a picture of Cody for its after-Oscars cover that prominently featured her bikini-clad stripper tattoo. The headline: Who’s Tat Girl! And on Tuesday, Photos of a scantily clad Cody surfaced on the Web site Egotastic ó nothing new, considering she’s posted scantily clad photos of herself before.
With her Oscar firmly in hand, Diablo is laying low for now. She is “out of town,” spending her time writing ó and won’t be available for media interviews “for the foreseeable future,” her representative, Craig Bankey, told The Associated Press on Tuesday.
Earlier this month, the Web site Something Awful posted three pages of a fake Cody screenplay called “Quotey” that mocked the hipster wordplay she showcased in “Juno,” which had the oft-mocked line: “Honest to blog?”
And right before the Oscars, New York comedian Jackie Clarke released a video impersonation of Cody, complete with the writer’s trademark black bob. In it, Clarke-as-Cody quipped: “Hey, did I ever tell you I used to be a stripper?”
“Everybody was … rallying behind her before `Juno’ hit $125 million at the box office, and now comes the inevitable backlash where they see her selling out to Hollywood,” observed Tom O’Neil, a columnist for the Los Angeles Times’ “The Envelope” Web site.
“She always seemed like a rebel, a social rebel who now seems to have cashed in and joined the club. And I think what we’re witnessing is resentment to that,” said O’Neil, who noted that Cody’s raunchy backstory likely proved irresistible to Hollywood types who don’t get a chance to show their bohemian, darker sides in public.
O’Neil called Cody’s rise a “naughty Cinderella” story. Cody, whose real name is Brook Busey, caught the eye of manager Mason Novick after he found her sexy blog while surfing for porn online several years ago. She wrote a memoir about her year as a stripper in Minneapolis ó and whipped up “Juno” on a laptop at a Starbucks in a Target store.
Cody’s new projects include the Steven Spielberg-produced “The United States of Tara” for Showtime, featuring Toni Collette as a mom with split personalities, and the horror film “Jennifer’s Body,” which counts “Juno” director Jason Reitman among the producers. She’s also taking a turn as a backpage pop-culture columnist for the magazine Entertainment Weekly.
“She was wooed by Hollywood from the start to join them,” O’Neil said. “And once she did, then they exalted her. She became the ultimate epitome of Hollywood’s free spirit.”
Movie critic Robert Wilonsky of the Dallas Observer thinks potshots against Cody are rooted in jealousy.
“She deserves what she has coming to her,” Wilonsky said. “This is not accidental and it’s not undeserved. Anyone who says otherwise is just a would-be screenwriter with a movie script sitting in their desk that nobody has any interest in.”
New York magazine recently published a chart showing “Juno” as experiencing “backlash to the backlash”: “Almost everyone we know hates it,” the magazine said. “So much so that others are now hating on the haters.”
One of those haters is the mag’s film critic, David Edelstein, who has professed to be “almost alone” ó among critics, anyway ó “in disliking” the dramedy.
“A lot of people I know have problems with the film because they think it’s not the way a 16-year-old girl talks,” Wilonsky said. “That’s probably right to some extent. It’s not meant to be a documentary.”
O’Neil said the trick for Cody now is to deal with the pressure to match the success of “Juno.”
“She’s got to deliver,” he said. “She’s got to prove that all of this adulation is not just about her, but was really about her work.”
The self-deprecating, yet self-promoting It Screenwriter seems as awed by her good fortune as her fans and detractors.
“I’ve always been a writer, I’ve always been a storyteller, but I never thought about screenwriting,” Cody said after her Oscar victory. “I grew up in the Midwest, you don’t know any screenwriters. It didn’t seem like a realistic career possibility.”
And until now, neither did the fame ó and all of its pitfalls ó that came along with it.
Diablo Cody pays the price of fame, too