'Juno' writer to pen, produce Universal film

Diablo Cody’s heading back to high school, signing on to write and produce an adaptation of the “Sweet Valley High” book series for Universal. Mason Novick, Adam Siegel and Marc Platt are also producing.

U agreed to a deal with Cody and her manager Novick, outbidding Fox for the project. It’s in talks to acquire the film rights to the book series created by Francine Pascal and published by Random House.

The “Sweet Valley” novels followed the lives of identical twins with dissimilar personalities — the sensitive and practical Elizabeth and the flighty and boy-crazy Jessica — in the fictional town of Sweet Valley. There were more than 150 books in the series between 1983 and 2003 and a TV series with 88 episodes between 1994 and 1997.

U put out the word last week that it’s not spending money for the rest of this year to advance development projects — unless they’re being fast-tracked or greenlit (Daily Variety, Sept. 18). Deal comes on the heels of a tepid opening for “Jennifer’s Body,” which Cody scripted.

Cody’s also attached to produce “Breathers: A Zombie’s Lament” for Fox Searchlight.

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