Author Rosalind Weisman has watched how “Mean Girls” became a global cultural phenomenon.
She must be thrilled that her book, Queen Bees and Wannabes, was made into a hit movie, then a Broadway musical — and now the musical is going to be made into a movie, too.
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 movie rights in 2002, and not a dime since.
Now, she’s speaking out against real-life Mean Girls culture and the “traumatic experience” that kept her from allegedly getting her due – revealing that Paramount told her the studio never made a profit from the franchise.
Her lawyers are preparing to take action, and she told The Post EXCLUSIVELY, “We’ve reached out to Paramount to make things more fair, but Paramount isn’t interested in that.”
It took a lot for Weizmann, 54, to respond. “For a long time I was very quiet about it,” she said, “so, very quiet, but I feel like it’s too hypocritical.”
“I think it’s only fair for me that I can be compensated in some way for work that changed our culture and changed the zeitgeist.
“Over the years, Tina has spoken eloquently about women supporting other women, but it has become increasingly clear to me, in my personal experience, that this is not going to be an experience. You don’t just talk about supporting women, you actually do.”
Wiseman met Faye, the first female head writer on “Saturday Night Live” in 2002 after the comedy star signed a development deal with Paramount.
Fey asked to purchase the film rights to “Queen Bees,” which instructs parents on how to navigate the rocky world of teenage girls and their friendships, after reading Wiseman’s New York Times Magazine cover story.
When I went to meet Tina and Lorne Michaels [‘SNL’ boss and ‘Mean Girls’ producer] “We’re doing this together,” said Wiseman, who chose Fey over several other movie offers several years ago.
Fey turned the book into a great movie starring Lindsey LohanAnd Amanda, Rachel McAdams and Lacey Chabert, also play herself. Weisman consulted on 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 public relations costs.
“We created this thing,” Wiseman said, “Tina took my word for it, and did an extraordinary job with it.” “It brought it to life, and the materials have been used and recycled for the past 20 years.
“I am obviously acknowledged and endorsed by Tina as my source of material and inspiration. I am recognized and yet I deserve nothing?”
Wiseman added, “For me, not only was having a female writer difficult because of the money, but it was also very traumatic and painful.
“It’s really what my work has been about, especially ‘girl whores.’ 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 really support each other.” Referring to Fay, she said, “That was especially difficult as a writer to a writer.”
Upon signing her original contract, Wiseman permanently signed all rights to the original films and derivative works, including musicals and television projects — though she said there was no discussion of any more projects at the time.
She said “just because you can’t make it right”. “Yeah, I had a bad, bad contract, but the movie made a lot of money, and they kept recycling my work over and over again, so they wouldn’t even consider me…”
To make matters even more infuriating, Wiseman alleged, Paramount insists it hasn’t made any money from the franchise.
Her original contract included net profit points—that is, extra money dependent on how well the movie fares at the box office.
However, the studio constantly told her that they didn’t make any net profits from “Mean Girls” and had already incurred too many extra costs and had nothing left to share with her. Weizmann’s lawyers now want to audit Paramount Books.
Wiseman’s attorney, Ryan Ketch, told the newspaper: “I suspect most people would be shocked by the way the jaded Rosalind Wiseman was treated. And rightfully so. It is shameful for a company with Paramount resources to go to such lengths to deny Ms. Wiseman what she deserves to be.” In part because it created what has become one of the most iconic entertainment franchises of the last 25 years.”
The Post has reached out to Fey and Paramount for comment.
Speaking from her home in Boulder, Colorado, Wiseman, a mother of two adult boys, told The Post that she had been approached by a theater producer decades ago about doing a musical, “Mean Girls.” Faye and Paramount were contacted by her agent, asking if she could move on, but were told no.
Instead, Weisman alleged, Paramount used the agent’s request to prevent it from paying for the musical, by claiming that it meant it was aware it did not have the rights.
“What’s hard is that they used my name in Playbill,” Wiseman said. “And Tina, in her interviews, said I was the inspiration and source, but there was no remuneration.”
However, she and Fey worked on producing an educational program for high school students doing their own music productions and worked with the cast and crew—for which she was never paid, Wiseman said.
“When the musical started, I reached out to Tina and said this was a great opportunity to talk about bullying, to help parents talk to kids. I agreed and did a workshop with the cast and crew about bullying because they were going to get overwhelmed with the kids they were talking to about their stories.
“I gave Tina a lot of feedback because I knew high schools were going to use ‘Mean Girls’ in their school musicals and I thought we were working towards this tutorial.”
You don’t just talk about supporting women, you actually do.
Weisman last saw Fey, 52, on April 8, 2018 — the night of its Broadway premiere, with guests including Jerry and Jessica Seinfeld, Jimmy Fallon, Ellie Kemper, Tituss Burgess, and Alec and Hilaria Baldwin.
the party Held in downtown Tao With a spread of sirloin kalbi and Peking duck, roasted cod and spring rolls, plus boxed brownies as Queen Bee Regina George’s favorite Kälteen bars for dessert.
But that was the final straw for Weizmann, who said, “There was a moment for me, I was at this amazing party and I was thinking about how much money this concert must have cost, maybe more than I paid.”
“There were all these Paramount executives who had no idea who I was and I just went like, ‘Wow, wow.’ I had to leave.
“I realized that night nothing was going to happen in the tutorial and that made me really angry. That’s when I reached out to my attorneys and they paid Paramount and said, ‘How can you do this to her?'”
The writer claimed, “They never compensated me for the work I did, and they never compensated me for the training I did for the cast and crew.”
like Page Six revealedFour of the original “Mean Girls” stars are in talks to appear in the new movieAnd But they resented Paramount’s “disrespectful” money offer.
McAdams – who played Regina George – was supposed to play “Wonderful Mother” John George, originally played by Amy Poehler. It was now the turn Taken by Busy Philippswhile other actresses reportedly want to make a cameo appearance.
When asked about the film at last month’s SAG Awards, Seyfried admitted, “I keep 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 ‘This is what this movie is about. ‘” They knew they were stronger together than each other.”
Wiseman, whose latest book, Brave Discomfort: How to Have Important, Courageous, and Life-Changing Conversations About Race and Racism was released in October, only heard about the new film a few months ago in the press. She has not been contacted by Fey, who is producing, writing, and co-starring on the project.
“For a number of reasons I haven’t come forward for a while and one of the reasons for all these years – because I was too fixated on not nagging or trying to dump Tina,” she said. “It’s just not me and it’s almost disrespectful to the content of what we were doing. I just felt cornered.
“But also, I really, really believe when you’re in a position of power and privilege that you have a responsibility to share that to create justice.”
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