Tina Fey didn’t pay me anything for the hit franchise



March 18, 2023 | 9:48 a.m

Author Rosalind Wiseman is fighting for her fair share of the ‘Mean Girls’ musical and new movie after signing her film rights to Tina Fey for $400,000. Misty Keasler for the NY Post

Writer Rosalind Wiseman witnessed “Mean Girls” become a global cultural phenomenon.

She should be thrilled that her book Queen Bees and Wannabes became a box office hit, then a Broadway musical – and now the musical is set to be made into a movie.

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

Now she speaks out against a true Mean Girls culture and the “painful experience” that prevented her from receiving her alleged fees – revealing that Paramount even told her the studio made no profit from the franchise has.

Her attorneys are preparing to take action, and she exclusively told The Post, “We have reached out to Paramount to make things fairer, but Paramount is not interested in that.”

Author Rosalind Wiseman is ready to take legal action after failing to pay a dime for the musical Mean Girls or the new movie. Misty Keasler for NY Post Tina Fey at the opening night of the Broadway musical “Mean Girls”. Getty Images

Wiseman, 54, has taken a lot to hit back. “For so long I’ve been so quiet, so, so quiet, but I just feel like the hypocrisy is too much,” she said.

“I think it’s fair that I can be compensated in some way for the work that has changed our culture and the zeitgeist.

“Over the years, Tina has spoken so eloquently about women supporting other women, but I’ve come to realize that in my own personal experience, that won’t be the experience. 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 musical Mean Girls. She was so upset at the lavish after-party that she 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.

Fey asked to buy the film rights to Queen Bees, which helps parents navigate the rocky world of teenage girls and their friendships, after reading Wiseman’s New York Times Magazine cover story.

“When I met Tina and Lorne Michaels [‘SNL’ boss and ‘Mean Girls’ producer] Many years ago it was more of a ‘let’s do this together’ experience,” said Wiseman, who preferred Fey over many other film offerings.

Rosalind Wiseman says she’s very upset that Tina Fey didn’t endorse her as a colleague. Misty Keasler for the NY Post

Fey turned the book into a blockbuster film starring Lindsay Lohan, Amanda Seyfried, Rachel McAdams and Lacey Chabert, who also took on a role. Wiseman advised the film.

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

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

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

“I’m clearly recognized and acknowledged by Tina as the source material, the inspiration. I’m recognized and yet I don’t earn anything?”

Wiseman added, “Not only was it difficult for me to have a writer without that happening because of the money, but it was painful, very painful.

“That’s really what my work is about, 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.” Regarding Fey, she said, “It was especially hard as a writer for writer.”

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

In signing her original deal, Wiseman permanently signed all rights to original films and derivative works, including musicals and television projects — though she said there was no discussion of other projects at the time.

“Just because you can do it doesn’t make it right,” she said. “Yeah, I had a horrible contract, horrible, but the movie made so much money and they recycle my work over and over again that they don’t even consider me…”

To add insult to injury, Wiseman claimed Paramount insisted it made no money from the franchise.

Her original deal included Net Profit Points — meaning extra money based on how well the film did at the box office.

However, the studio has repeatedly told her that they made no net profits on Mean Girls and, in fact, incurred so many additional costs that there is nothing left to share with her. Wiseman’s lawyers now want to review Paramount’s books.

Wiseman’s attorney, Ryan Keech, told the Post: “I suspect most people would be shocked at how shabbily Rosalind Wiseman was treated. And rightly so. It is nothing short of shameful for a company with Paramount’s resources to go so far as to deny Ms. Wiseman what is rightfully hers for creating one of the most iconic entertainment franchises in the world over the past 25 years.”

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

Wiseman, mother of two adult sons, told The Post from her home in Boulder, Colorado that decades ago a theater producer approached her about making a “Mean Girls” musical. Her agent contacted Fey and Paramount and asked if she could go ahead, but was told no.

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

Wiseman claimed that Paramount instead used the agent’s request to prevent her from getting paid for the musical, claiming that it meant she knew she had no ownership of the rights.

“The trouble is that they used my name in the program,” Wiseman said. “And Tina said in her interviews I was the inspiration and the source, but there was no pay.”

However, she worked with Fey on producing an educational program for high school students to do their own productions of the musical, and worked with the cast and crew — which Wiseman said she was never paid to do.

Tina Fey wrote and produced Mean Girls and also played Ms. Norbury – a role she will also have in the new film. ©Paramount/Courtesy Everett Collection

“When the musical came out I approached Tina and said this was a great opportunity to talk about bullying and help parents talk to kids. She agreed and I did a workshop with the cast and crew about bullying because they were being inundated with kids talking to them about their stories.

“I gave Tina so many notes because I knew high schools were going to use ‘Mean Girls’ for their 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

The last time Wiseman saw Fey, 52, was on April 8, 2018 — the night of the Broadway premiere, with guests including Jerry and Jessica Seinfeld, Jimmy Fallon, Ellie Kemper, Titus Burgess, and Alec and Hilaria Baldwin.

The party took place at TAO Downtown with a spread of Kalbi roast beef and Peking duck, fried cod and spring rolls, and brownies in the form of Queen Bee Regina George’s favorite cold bars for dessert.

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

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

“There were all these Paramount executives who had no idea who I was, and I was just walking around and I was like, ‘Wow, wow.’ I had to go.

“I realized that night that nothing was going to happen with the educational program and that really made me angry. So I went to my lawyers and they pushed Paramount and said, ‘How can you do this to her?’”

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

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

The musical “Mean Girls” hit Broadway with a bang.WireImage

McAdams – who played Regina George – was set to play “cool mom” June George, originally played by Amy Poehler. The role has now been filled by Busy Philipps, while the other actresses reportedly wanted to make cameos.

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

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

Wiseman, whose latest book, Courageous Discomfort: How to Have Important, Brave, Life-Changing Conversations about Race and Racism, was released in October, only heard about the new film in the press a few months ago. She has not been contacted by Fey, who is producing, writing and starring in the project.

“I haven’t checked in for a while for many reasons, and one of the reasons for all these years — because I’ve been so focused on not whining or trying to destroy Tina,” she said. “I’m just not, and it’s almost disrespectful to the substance of what we were doing. I just felt so trapped.

“But I also firmly believe that when you are in a position of power and privilege, you have a responsibility to share it in order to bring about justice.”

Filed under Amanda Seyfried, Broadway, Broadway Musicals, Lacey Chabert, Lindsay Lohan, Lorne Michaels, Mean Girls, Paramount Pictures, Rachel Mcadams, Saturday Night Live, Tina Fey, 03/18/23

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