Tina Fey gave me nothing for the hit franchise



March 18, 2023 | 9:48 a.m

Writer Rosalind Wiseman has watched The Holy Girls become a global cultural phenomenon.

She must be thrilled that the book Queen Bees and Wishes has been turned into a hit movie, then a Broadway musical — and now the musical will be turned into a movie, too.

But while writer and producer Tina Fey and Paramount Pictures made millions from the franchise, Wiseman made just over $400,000 after signing a deal to sell the film rights in 2002, and not a cent since.

Now she’s speaking out against real-life Mean Girls culture and the “painful experience” that prevented her from receiving her alleged dues — with Paramount even revealing that the studio isn’t making any profit from the franchise.

His lawyers are preparing to take action, and he told The Post exclusively, “We’ve approached Paramount to make things fairer, but Paramount isn’t interested.”

Author Rosalind Wiseman is set to take legal action after she hasn’t been paid a penny for her Mean Girls musical or new film.
Misty Keasler for the NY Post
Tina Fey at the opening night of the Broadway musical Mean Girls.
Getty Images

Wiseman, 54, took a long time to strike back. “I’ve been very quiet about it for a long time, so quiet, but I feel like there’s a lot of hypocrisy,” she said.

“I think it’s only fair for me to be able to be compensated in some way for the work that changed our culture and changed the zeitgeist.

“Over the years, Tina has spoken so eloquently about women supporting other women, but in my personal experience, it has become more and more clear to me. “You don’t just talk about supporting women, you actually do it.”

Rosalind Wiseman and son Elijah Edwards greet Tina Fey at the 2018 premiere of The Good Girls. He was so upset by the lavish party that he left early.
Getty Images

Wiseman met Fey, the first female head writer on “Saturday Night Live,” in 2002 after the comedy star signed a development deal with Paramount.

After reading Wiseman’s New York Times cover story, Fey asked parents to buy the rights to Queen Bees, a movie about teenage girls navigating the rocky world and their friendships.

“When I went to meet Tina and Lorne Michaels (‘SNL’ boss and ‘Mean Girls’ producer) years ago, it was a very ‘we’re in this together’ experience,” said Wiseman, who chose Fey. on top of many other movie offerings.

Rosalind Wiseman says she’s most upset about Tina Fey’s lack of support as a fellow writer.
Misty Keasler for the NY Post

Fey turned the book into a blockbuster movie starring Lindsay Lohan, Amanda Seyfried, Rachel McAdams and Lacey Chabert, as well as herself. Wiseman consulted on the film.

Released on April 30, 2004, Mean Girls was a surprise hit, grossing $130 million worldwide. It had a budget of $17 million, which was later doubled to include marketing and PR costs.

“We created this thing, Tina took my word for it, she did an extraordinary job with it,” Wiseman said. “He brought it back to life and the material has been used and recycled for the past 20 years.

Lindsay Lohan, Amanda Seyfried, Lacey Chabert and Rachel McAdams as the original Mean Girls.
©Paramount/Courtesy Everett Collection

“I was clearly recognized and acknowledged by Tina as the source material, the source of inspiration. I’m recognized, but I don’t deserve anything?’

Wiseman added: “For me to have a female writer and not have it happen, it was not only difficult because of the money, but it was painful, very painful.

“It was really about my work, especially ‘Mean Girls.’ Women don’t have to be best friends—we can be mad at each other, but when it comes down to it, we have to support each other.” Referring to Fey, she said, “It’s been especially difficult for a writer as a writer.”

Tina Fey and Lindsay Lohan in Mean Girls.
CBS via Getty Images

When he signed his original deal, Wiseman signed away all rights to the original motion pictures and spin-offs, including musicals and television projects, in perpetuity — though he said at the time that no other projects were under discussion.

“Just because it can’t be fixed,” he said. “Yeah, I had a terrible contract, it was terrible, but the movie made a lot of money and they kept recycling my work over and over again, so they didn’t even consider me…”

To make matters more infuriating, Wiseman claimed, Paramount insists it made no money from the franchise.

His original contract included net profit points, meaning extra money depending on how well the film did at the box office.

However, the studio continually told her that they were not making any net profit from Mean Girls and that they were actually incurring so much overhead that there was nothing left to share with her. Wiseman’s lawyers now want to inspect Paramount’s books.

Wiseman’s attorney, Ryan Keech, told the Post: “I suspect most people will be shocked at how despicably Rosalind Wiseman was treated. And rightly so. It is nothing short of shameful that a company with Paramount’s resources would go to the lengths to disown Ms. Wiseman for creating what has become one of the world’s most popular entertainment franchises. for the past 25 years.”

The Post has reached out to Fey and Paramount for comment.

Speaking from her home in Boulder, Colorado, Wiseman, the mother of two grown sons, told The Post that a theater producer approached her decades ago about doing a “Good Girls” musical. Her agent contacted Fey and Paramount to ask if she could continue, but they said no.

Lindsay Lohan, Amanda Seyfried, Lacey Chabert and Rachel McAdams were in talks to star in the new Mean Girls movie, but were “disrespectfully” offered.
©Paramount/Courtesy Everett Collection

Wiseman argued that instead Paramount used the agent’s claim to prevent him from getting paid for the musical, which meant he knew he didn’t own the rights.

“The hard part is that they used my name on the Playbill,” Wiseman said. “And Tina said that I was an inspiration and a resource in her interviews, but there was no payment.”

However, he worked with Fey to develop an educational program for high school students, his own production of the musical, and worked with the cast and crew — for which he was never paid, Wiseman said.

Tina Fey wrote and produced Mean Girls and played Mrs. Norbury, a role she will reprise in the new film.
©Paramount/Courtesy Everett Collection

“When the musical came out, I approached Tina and said that this is a great opportunity to talk about bullying, to help parents talk to children. He agreed and I did a workshop on violence with the cast and crew because they would be inundated with kids talking to them about their stories.

“I gave Tina so many notes that I knew middle schools were going to use ‘Mean Girls’ for school musicals, and I thought we were working on that educational program.”

You don’t just talk about supporting women, you actually do it.

Rosalind Wiseman

Wiseman last saw Fey, 52, on April 8, 2018 – the night of the Broadway premiere, which included Jerry and Jessica Seinfeld, Jimmy Fallon, Ellie Kemper, Titus Burgess and Alec and Hilaria Baldwin.

The party was held downtown at TAO, with hearty sirloin and Peking duck, roasted cod and buns, plus cupcakes packaged like Queen Bee Regina George’s favorite Kälteen Bars for dessert.

Rosalind Wiseman and her son Elijah Edwards at the opening night of the musical Mean Girls.
Bruce Glikas/FilmMagic

But that was the straw that broke the camel’s back for Wiseman: “There was a moment for me, I was at this incredible party and I was thinking how much money this party cost, probably more than I was paid. .

“There were all these Paramount execs who have no idea who I am, and I’m just walking around going, ‘Whoa, whoa.’ I had to go.

“That night I realized that nothing was going to happen with the educational program, and it made me very angry. At that point I turned to my lawyers and they pushed Paramount and said, ‘How are you doing this to him?’

“They never compensated me for the work I did, they never compensated me for the training I did for the cast and crew,” the writer claimed.

As Page Six revealed, four of the original Mean Girls stars were in talks to appear in the new film, but were upset by Paramount’s “disrespectful” offer.

The musical Mean Girls was a smash hit on Broadway.

McAdams, who plays Regina George, was originally slated to play “cool mom” June George, played by Amy Poehler. The role has now been played by Busy Phillips, and other actresses are said to be interested in cameos.

Asked about the film at the SAG Awards last month, Seyfried admitted, “I’m still hoping for a miracle. It’s not really up to us, is it?’

Wiseman said, “When I read about actresses supporting each other, I really thought that’s what this movie is about. They knew that they are stronger together than apart.”

Wiseman, whose latest book, Brave Discomfort: How to Have Important, Brave, Life-Changing Conversations about Race and Racism, was released in October, had heard about the new film only a few months ago in the press. Fey, who produced, wrote and starred in the project, has not been contacted.

“I haven’t come forward for a while for a lot of reasons, and one of the reasons for all these years is because I’ve been so focused on not whining and trying to trash Tina,” he said. “It’s just not me, and it’s almost disrespectful to the content of what we do. I just felt so trapped.

“But I really do believe that when you’re in a position of power and privilege, you have a responsibility to share that to create justice.”

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