Tina Fey Slammed by "Mean Girls" Book Author: "They Never Compensated Me"
Rosalind Wiseman claims she hasn't been fairly paid for her work that inspired the movie and musical.
Following its release in 2004, Mean Girls became a pop culture phenomenon. The movie is a comedy classic that is still beloved—and quoted—by millions of fans today, and it's been adapted into a Broadway musical that itself is being adapted into an upcoming musical movie. But, one person who isn't exactly thrilled about Mean Girls' ongoing success is Rosalind Wiseman, the author of the book that inspired the film.
In a new interview with the New York Post, Wiseman claims she has been unfairly compensated for her contribution, calls writer Tina Fey hypocritical, and declares that she is prepared to take legal action. Read on to find out more about the controversy.
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Mean Girls is inspired by Wiseman's book.
In 2002, Wiseman published the self-help book Queen Bees and Wannabes: Helping Your Daughter Survive Cliques, Gossip, Boyfriends, and Other Realities of Adolescence.
In a 2018 interview with CBS Sunday Morning, Fey talked about adapting the book, explaining that Wiseman had worked in schools and learned about cliques and various social dynamics among kids and teens.
"The book at its core is meant to have a positive message," Fey said. "The movie, from jump, we always said we wanted it to be, not just camp about people being villainous to each other, but also to kind of give a point of relief of like, Oh, if we can recognize this behavior and kind of find jokes about it, it will just help us get past it, it will help us name it, see the ridiculousness in it."
Wiseman signed a contract before the movie was made.
Wiseman told the New York Post that she has made just over $400,000 by selling the rights to her book and hasn't profited at all from the continued success of the movie and musical. The outlet does note that Wiseman's contract did state that she was signing away in perpetuity all rights to other related projects and adaptations. But, she says she still finds the current situation unfair.
"Just because you can doesn't make it right," Wiseman said. "Yes, I had a terrible contract, terrible, but the movie has made so much money, and they keep recycling my work over and over again, so to not even consider me…"
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She believes she hasn't been properly compensated for her contribution.
"I think it's fair for me to be able to get compensated in some way for the work that has changed our culture and changed the zeitgeist," Wiseman told the New York Post.
She claims that Paramount Pictures told her that it has not made a net profit from the Mean Girls franchise, which is why she has not received further compensation. Because of this, her lawyers want to audit Paramount's books to see if the studio is telling the truth.
"I suspect most people would be shocked at how shabbily Rosalind Wiseman has been treated," her lawyer said in a statement. "And properly so. It is nothing short of shameful for a company with the resources of Paramount to go to the lengths to which it has gone to deny Ms. Wiseman what she is fairly entitled to for having created what has become one of the most iconic entertainment franchises of the last 25 years."
Best Life has reached out to Paramount for comment.
She called Fey out for her "hypocrisy."
Wiseman explained to the outlet why she's speaking out now. "For so long I was so quiet about it, so, so quiet, but I just feel like the hypocrisy is too much," the author said. But, she added that she didn't want to be perceived as "trying to trash Tina."
The writer explained that Fey has recognized her as the source material for Mean Girls and that she is credited in the Playbill for the musical, which premiered on Broadway in 2018. "I'm recognized and yet I deserve nothing?" Wiseman asked.
She also said that Fey not stepping up in her favor has been "painful" to her, since they are both women writers.
"Over the years Tina's spoken so eloquently about women supporting other women, but it's gotten increasingly clear to me that, in my own personal experience, that's not going to be the experience," Wiseman said. "You don't just talk about supporting women, you actually do it."
Best Life has reached out to Fey for comment but has not yet received a response.
She worked with the cast of the musical.
Wiseman also claims that she was not paid for her work on the successful Broadway version of the movie. She explained in the interview that she thought she and Fey were going to collaborate on an educational program for teens around the time the show was being developed. She said that she also did a workshop about bullying for the cast and crew of the musical.
"They never compensated me for the work I did, they never compensated me for the training I did for the cast and the crew," Wiseman asserted. The last time she saw Fey was at the Broadway opening five years ago.
Another adaptation is in the works.
Mean Girls was adapted into a stage musical, and now the musical is being adapted into a musical movie. Like the original, it's written by Fey, who is also returning to her role as Ms. Norbury. Other cast members include Angourie Rice, Renée Rapp, Auli'i Cravalho, Jenna Fischer, and Busy Philipps.
Fey told Playbill in a statement in 2020 when the adaptation was announced, "I'm very excited to bring Mean Girls back to the big screen. It's been incredibly gratifying to see how much the movie and the musical have meant to audiences. I've spent 16 years with these characters now. They are my Marvel Universe, and I love them dearly."