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Twitter sensation Kelly Oxford hooks Hollywood

Social media's quippy queen Kelly Oxford goes from tweeting to screenwriting on the strength of her posts, snagging a book deal and reeling in Hollywood fans like Jimmy Kimmel.

June 19, 2012|By Nicole Sperling, Los Angeles Times

"She speaks honestly from her own experience," Ebert said in an email. "She can be funny and some of her tweets are snarky, but there's a person there, leveling with us."

Enchanted by Oxford's voice, Emmy-winning screenwriter Jhoni Marchinko encouraged her to write a pilot and offered to serve as her mentor.

Cody became a close friend and confidant. A stripper-turned-blogger who came to Hollywood after being discovered by her current manager, Cody believes that starting a career through social networking is a sound strategy.

"As someone who came from the Internet myself, I don't know why anyone wouldn't," she said. "Self-publishing is fantastic. You don't have to deal with anybody. There are no rejection letters. You just find your audience. Plus, you get instantaneous feedback."

Oxford had visited Southern California as a teenager and again in her early 20s, quick trips to L.A. to "soak it in" or, in one instance, on a failed quest to meet her movie star crush, Leonardo DiCaprio. In March 2010, she flew to Los Angeles for her first business trip, a four-day visit in which she met with just about every studio and development executive in town.

"A lot of them thought I was going to be this cute country housewife or something," Oxford wrote in an email. "I guess they had no way to know that I'm fairly controlling and business savvy, except for the fact that I've been controlling my entire image and work myself for the past 12 years online."

Oxford stays up late most nights to write at a cluttered desk in her second-story bedroom in her home in Calgary. A bulletin board near her head is covered in children's art and baby photos of Salinger, now 11, Henry, 8, and Beatrix, 3.

Her fingers race across the keys of her MacBook Air while her husband James — they married in 2007 because Henry became enchanted with the idea of being a ring bearer — strums his guitar a floor below.

In addition to making final revisions on her book, she's rewriting her screenplay, "Son of a Bitch," which Oxford says is about a young pot-smoking party girl with a legion of loyal online followers who must reconcile her new motherhood with her online persona.

Last year's summer box-office hit "Bridesmaids,"a raunchy comedy starring Wiig that earned two Oscar nominations, paved the way for unflinching depictions of young women in previously taboo settings.

"Before 'Bridesmaids,' I never would have thought to pitch an R-rated girl-centric movie because I knew the odds of it going were pretty slim. But all of a sudden there is a market for this — the outspoken women," said Oxford.

Lately, when she travels to Hollywood, she stays with Kimmel and his girlfriend Molly McNearney, co-head writer on his ABC talk show"Jimmy Kimmel Live!" They've opened their Hollywood Hills home to Oxford, and lent her a car.

Now, Oxford is preparing to transplant her family to Hollywood for a six-month trial run. ("My weirdest friends are there," she said.)

On a recent Thursday, she slid into a seat at a Sherman Oaks bakery, a bit anxious about the day ahead. She was in town to sign contracts, meet with studio brass and check out a rental house.

Running 15 minutes late, and dressed in a lace top, chunky beaded necklace and jeans, Oxford looked more like a coffee shop employee than a budding Hollywood player.

She was well-armed for the day's affairs: extra shoes, an extra purse, a new outline for her meeting with Warner Bros.development executives. Her biggest concern was her stomach. James was sending reports from home: All three kids caught a flu and little Bea had just started eating again. Oxford wasn't hungry — a bad sign for the usually ravenous writer.

To make sure she left each meeting in time to make the next one, she had set the alarm on her iPhone. She's become a master at Google maps. "It's like'The Amazing Race,'" she said, checking the traffic before heading to her next destination. "I've never been late yet."

Her agent, Cliff Roberts, said he isn't worried that her impending relocation or her higher profile will dull her edge.

"She's not coming out wide-eyed, fresh off the bus from Iowa," he said. "She's had some pretty fancy people that have been chasing her to do stuff for a long time."

The tone of her tweets certainly hasn't changed. In a recent one, she asked her followers, "How do you get a red wine stain off a baby?"

nicole.sperling@latimes.com

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