Fox Searchlight ‘defends’ Jennifer’s Body

diablo-cody.jpgIn 2005 I read scripts for a living. Well, for money. A very small, unlivable amount of money. It’s called coverage,and most companies pay about $50 per script for a summary and notes. This is, by the way, what those companies paid in the 1980s. Some companies now pay as much as $60 per script, while others get away with paying as little as $35 or having interns do the work for free. Which is fucking sick, but was totally not my point.

Here’s another slightly off-topic ramble: hype, success, and bitter haters. Why oh why must everyone hate anyone who is successful? It can’t just be envy. And yet, everyone has an opinion on Diablo Cody, whose debut screenplay, JUNO, was the first I ever wrote coverage on. (Off-off-topic: I have been accused of being responsible for the hype, because I gave it a rave review. I assure you, it is not my fault. The script sold that same week, to another company.) She became an instant media darling, due in no small part to the fact that she is an ex-stripper, OMG. Because none of us have ever met strippers before, I guess? So there was a media frenzy, everyone loved Diablo, and then… the hate. Backlash like I have never seen it. People told me they hated the movie before they even saw it, because they were tired of hearing the Midwest Girl Makes Good story. This makes no sense to me! Why on earth should overexposure that is (presumably) not her fault in any way affect your opinion of her movie?

But anyway, to my main point. Her sophomore effort is a script called JENNIFER’S BODY, which Fox Searchlight owns. According to MediaBistro, Fox Lawyers sent a Cease & Desist to website CC2K for their script review. (I am a little confused about this story, since the review is plainly still online. If anyone can clear that up for me, I’d be grateful.) I don’t get it — why not just send the writer $50 for the free coverage?

22 Replies to “Fox Searchlight ‘defends’ Jennifer’s Body”

  1. I have no idea. She is my age, so just right to be familiar with the song (I think I was about 17 when that album came out). So the title may be borrowed, but the plot doesn’t seem to be related.

  2. People would hate Diablo Cody a lot less if she hadn’t decided to call herself Diablo Cody.

    In my set, there would be a lot less backlash against Juno if superior films of this genre (Fast Times, Say Anything, The Breakfast Club) had historically received award noms, Cameron Crowe notwithstanding. What’s changed between then and now? And why are critics so eager to hand out the title of “this year’s Little Miss Sunshine”? It’s largely the ubiquity that breeds annoyance. And perhaps an unfair spit of venom at the mention of Juno or Diablo Cody. That’s just how things go when they get overblown.

  3. I was fortunate to see Juno before I knew anything about Diablo Cody. She spoke at a Q&A that followed, and I had an immediate crush. I was more surprised that this was her first script than she was a stripper.

    Anyway…

    Hating her for her success is incredibly juvenile, regardless of how warranted it is. In every interview I’ve heard her speak, she’s never come across as anything less than humble, and surprised by the critical reaction as anyone.

    To be fair, I agree Juno isn’t Best Picture material. But its a hell of a lot better than “Michael Clayton,” which “looks” like a Best Picture so the public gets a pass.

    If I hate anyone, its the marketing people who have shoved Juno down everyone’s throats, and as a result have so overhyped Diablo Cody that her next film, and possibly her career, could suffer in the long term.

    But if I was to hate Diablo, its because her first script ever was so fuckin’ awesome. Bitch.

  4. Rodger, I have a crush on her too. It’s pretty hard to talk to her (or read an interview, or whatever) and discover what a geek she is, and how funny, without finding her attractive. Doesn’t matter what she looks like (physically, she is not my type at all, though I think she is pretty).

  5. Lots of comments on “crushes” and “loving her”, but not a single response to the actual question.

    I too would like to know how you can send a C and D for a script review, unless you are posting large portions of the script itself.

  6. I was really excited about this movie based on the trailers, and then felt a bit let down by the actual movie. A lot of the dialog was hard to believe and the character Juno, was hard for me to swallow too.

    So, my complaints with regards to the movie is…a lot of hype, without enough substance to back it.

    Nothing to do with “hating” on the writer…just..maybe she is getting a bit more hype then deserved. But hey, she is pretty “good looking” for a writer! That could have something to do with it!

  7. Kneejerk:
    I agree entirely. I think Fox abused their power by sending the C&D which I can’t imagine would ever stand up in court, but since it would take money to defend the blog backed down.
    Insulting.

  8. The script now belongs to Fox and is their intellectual property. They own it. In the film business, surprise is a big factor, and CAN and DOES stand up in court on the basis of potential lost revenue if said surprise is let out before the owner wants it to.

  9. In the film business, surprise is a big factor, and CAN and DOES stand up in court on the basis of potential lost revenue if said surprise is let out before the owner wants it to.

    Like when? I’m 110% positive that reviews fall under fair use, released or not. If you can provide a precedent that proves otherwise I’d be interested to see it.

  10. “The script now belongs to Fox and is their intellectual property. They own it. In the film business, surprise is a big factor, and CAN and DOES stand up in court on the basis of potential lost revenue if said surprise is let out before the owner wants it to.”

    As an indie filmmaker and a writer (and a purist), I have to say that even though I have no love for studios, reviews of scripts drive me crazy. Screenplays are not meant to be reviewed or seen by anyone not associated with the work (unless they are purposefully published, usually after the film is made), just as much as dailies, or book drafts or anything else prep-wise is not meant to be seen by public or reviewed. Scripts go through so many changes and phases, and yes revealing certain parts of intellectual property can cause damage and that could challenge fair use. It’s a huge grey area; sure, but I wish people would practice more self-control and respect the artists, the work and the process. Not everyone thinks all press is good press and some artists are indeed keen on creating a great storytelling experience to be revealed in the theater. It’s no wonder M.Night is so damn paranoid. Some artists need some space to breathe and craft something wonderful for us. Let’s give them that. Quid pro quo. Let’s stop snooping for our Christmas presents ahead of time. The reveal will be all the better.

  11. I gotta agree with js – as an editor, I can’t begin to tell you how different a movie can be from screenplay to screen. Try reading Annie Hall or M.A.S.H. and then watch the movies. Hell, the “you talkin’ to me?” scene in Taxi Driver isn’t even in the script.

  12. While I find the idea that only film makers are sophisticated enough to appreciate the development process of a film to be distastefully elitist, I fully support your right to be as paranoid and purist as you want. I also agree that it would be nice if people could just sit tight and appreciate the finished product. However, neither of those things, AFAIK, entitles you to send a C&D to a reviewer or anybody that’s not making inappropriate commercial use of your intellectual property. Fair use is fair use, regardless of whether you think it causes “damage.”

  13. FYI, the review was pulled, an apology was posted, and then the blog put it back up.

    CC2k for some reason doesn’t mention this in the post, but does in the comment thread. I don’t see any sort of explanation, although they do say that they’ve removed script reviews in the past.

    Hopefully, this is a sign that someone informed that, as 5000! says, script reviews don’t fall under intellectual property.

  14. As someone with a crush on her as well (Juno = smart and sassy), I have to agree with both comments. First, sorry, I’m a guy. She Diablo Cody is rad. Secondly, a script, even a shooting script means nothing. There’s been lots of good scripts made terrible, and vice versa. Reviewing a script is like getting graded for an outline of your notes for a class you’re taking. It’s quite beside the point, and because a lot of successful movies get copied (snakes on a train?), you know, this stuff probably should stay under wraps for as long as possible.

    And I’m saying this as an anarchist who hates copyrights period. But in the world I’d want to live in, people would self censor themselves rather than trying to be cool by showing everyone they already got to read the script, which is really the only point of the blog, I think.

  15. hey mama,

    you blog popped up while I was searching for ‘screenwriting’ + ‘la’ + ‘living’.

    Maybe you’re in the know. Where does a NYC transplant interested in working in film live…if she’s afraid of living right in LA?

  16. I just hated the dialogue. It went totally McGuyver on me, much in the way the Gilmore Girls dialogue does. Sooo phony…just like a stripper who writes a “memoir” about stripping without a mention of destroyed lives or addiction…the Juno script was a piece of shit. Don’t care what she looks like, but the stripper tattoo is creepy and psycho.

  17. I just hated the dialogue. It went totally McGuyver on me, much in the way the Gilmore Girls dialogue does. Sooo phony…just like a stripper who writes a “memoir” about stripping without a mention of destroyed lives or addiction…the Juno script was a piece of shit. Don’t care what she looks like, but the stripper tattoo is creepy and psycho.

Comments are closed.