There’s something hilarious about the idea of the Oscar-winning screenwriter of Juno being housebound due to the care of a newborn. But such has been the case in recent months for Diablo Cody (pictured), albeit from the relative comfort of her well-appointed Hollywood Hills abode.
As any parent who has gone through that drill knows, the first real trip out of the house is one to both look forward to and savor. In Cody’s case, it will be when she heads to the east coast at the beginning of February to attend the third annual edition at Barnard College of the female-centric Athena Film Festival (February 7-10), for which she is one of the co-chairs.
“I have a toddler and an infant right now,” Cody tells FishbowlLA via telephone. “I don’t get out to the movies, I don’t get out to have dinner, I don’t get out to my friend’s Live Reads [Jason Reitman, LACMA]. I am so home-bound right now. That’s why I’m so excited about the Athena Film Festival and getting to go to New York for a couple of days. I’m going alone, so I don’t know what I’m going to do with all that “thinking” time.”
Cody will also have the opportunity to finally meet a fellow female Hollywood trailblazer, Gale Anne Hurd, who is receiving the event’s Laura Ziskin Lifetime Achievement Award. “I’m really excited about that,” Cody confirms. “I think it’s so cool that she’s getting this award. I’m really interested to hear the Q&A with her and hear about the experiences that she’s had. Especially making these films that I think a lot of people would consider not to be in a woman’s wheelhouse. She’s probably got a lot to say.”
One of the entries in this year’s Athena line-up is a tongue-in-cheek documentary look by Bonnie McFarLane at the idea that Women Aren’t Funny. With Chelsea Handler tearing up the nightime talk show airwaves and Amy Poehler with Tina Fey showing Ricky Gervais how it really should be done at the Golden Globes, obviously those who believe this are behind the times. But we wondered if, from Cody’s Hollywood end, she has run into any sort of variation of this perception?
“Honestly, people know better than to bring that stuff up with me, because they will soon find themselves in the middle of a fiery argument,” Cody says. “But just for example the kind of jobs you get offered as a female screenwriter. When Hollywood sends a script out for a polish, most of the time the comedy polishes go to guys, whereas if they want things to be more romantic or “sweeter,” they go out to women. I’ve always found that incredibly frustrating. I’d rather punch up jokes than love scenes. There’s definitely this perception that men write comedy.”
Fans should also not expect the expansion of Cody’s household to steer her creative efforts. “People always say, ‘Oh, you have kids now! Are you going to write about motherhood?’ [Insert Juno irony here] I can see why they ask that and don’t take offense to it. But, no. I still do have other interests and other ideas.”
Speaking of which, Cody tells us her script for the Sweet Valley High movie musical has been finished for a while now. “They had Brian Yorkey and Tom Kitt write these great songs for it, and then we were able to integrate them together with the script. Now the search is on for the right kind of director. I have a feeling we’re close.”
Finally, we couldn’t help but wonder how someone like Cody, who went through the whole film awards grind herself in 2007-08, now takes in those particular red carpet proceedings. “I will never now watch the Oscars the way a normal person does,” Cody admits.
“I know what it’s like to be in the audience [as a nominee] and on stage and backstage… What it’s like to go through the crazy season leading up to the show. Everyone is just so tired and so burned out by the end of awards season, and on the verge of like mental collapse. Watching Jennifer Lawrence at the SAG Awards, I thought to myself, ‘That girl is ready to collapse.’ I hope they give her a break after the Oscars.”
[Images courtesy 2013 Athena Film Festival]
Previously on FishbowlLA:
Diablo Cody Goes Day for Mamma Mia! Night