'Mean Girls' writer says she was never paid for the movie's success and accuses Tina Fey of hypocrisy for 'talk about supporting women': It's 'been painful, very painful'

Tina Fey and Rosalind Wiseman
Tina Fey and Rosalind Wiseman.Cindy Ord / NBCUniversal / Getty Images / Jimi Celeste / Patrick McMullan via Getty Images
  • Rosalind Wiseman said that Paramount Pictures did not pay her after the success of "Mean Girls."

  • The writer said that the studio told her the film didn't turn a profit, despite grossing $130 million.

  • Wiseman said it was a "painful" experience because writer Tina Fey did not step in to help her.

The author whose book inspired "Mean Girls" has criticized movie studio Paramount Pictures and writer Tina Fey, claiming she has not received any of the profits she was promised following the movie's success.

Rosalind Wiseman told the New York Post she sold the film rights to her book "Queen Bees and Wannabees," which was used as the source for Fey's script, for just over $400,000 in 2002.

According to the article, Wiseman signed over any rights she may have had to any other "Mean Girls" movies or derivative works, such as the musical based on the movie, as part of the agreement. However, Wiseman said that her contract included a provision for net profits from the 2004 movie depending on its box office success.

"Mean Girls" grossed $130 million worldwide at the box office, according to IMDb, but the writer said she was told there were no profits to share with her due to extra costs incurred by the studio.

Now, Wiseman's lawyer, Ryan Keech, has told the Post that they want an audit of Paramount's books.

"I suspect most people would be shocked at how shabbily Rosalind Wiseman has been treated," said Keech. "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."

Wiseman also criticized Fey for not being more supportive.

The writer said she deliberately chose Fey and producer Lorne Michaels' offer for the film rights over other offers because she assumed she would be more directly involved in the franchise.

Rachel McAdams and Lindsay Lohan in "Mean Girls."
Rachel McAdams and Lindsay Lohan in "Mean Girls."CBS via Getty Images

"It was very much a 'we're doing this together' kind of experience," Wiseman said. "For me, having a female writer and not having that happen has not only been difficult because of the money, but it's also been painful, very painful. It's really what my work has been about, especially 'Mean Girls.' Women don't have to be best friends — we can get mad at each other, but when it comes down to it we need to actually support each other."

Wiseman said that she hasn't spoken out before because she didn't want to "trash" Fey, but thought the "hypocrisy is too much."

"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."

Tina Fey and actress Lindsay Lohan attend a private screening of "Mean Girls" on April 23, 2004
Tina Fey and actress Lindsay Lohan attend a private screening of "Mean Girls" on April 23, 2004.Paul Hawthorne/Getty Images

Wiseman also claimed that Fey and Paramount vetoed an opportunity she received to turn her book into a musical decades ago.

The writer said that she was not consulted about the Broadway musical adaptation of the movie, which premiered in 2018, nor the upcoming movie based on the musical.

Wiseman said that when she approached Fey about the musical with an opportunity to create an educational program about bullying for high schoolers putting on their own productions, she was never compensated for the training she did with the cast and crew.

"What's hard is that they used my name in the Playbill," Wiseman said. "And Tina, in her interviews, said I was the inspiration and the source, but there was no payment."

Representatives for neither Fey nor Paramount could immediately be reached for comment.

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