Rosalind Wiseman wrote the book “Queen Bees and Wannabes” in 2002 for parents to help them understand their teenage girls. The book became the basis of the cult classic comedy “Mean Girls” (2004) starring Lindsay Lohan. The film version was written by Fey.
Wiseman sold the film rights in 2002 for $400,000 and, in doing so, relinquished all rights to original motion pictures and derivative works, including musicals and TV shows. The movie was adapted into a Broadway musical.
The author’s contract promised she would receive net profit based on box office performance, but now Wiseman claims the studio hasn’t paid her any, claiming they have no profits due to extra costs. “Mean Girls” was a surprise hit at the box office, bringing in $130 million worldwide following its release on a $17 million production budget.
Wiseman discussed her feelings about the situation during an interview with The New York Post published over the weekend.
She mentioned how “Mean Girls” has “changed our culture and changed the zeitgeist” due to its massive popularity.
“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,” the author said, mentioning how 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,” she continued.
Wiseman also claimed that a theater director had approached her about turning the book into a musical, but Fey and Paramount killed the deal because they owned the rights to the intellectual property.
“What’s hard is that they used my name in the Playbill,” Wiseman told the Post. “And Tina, in her interviews, said I was the inspiration and the source, but there was no payment.”
“I suspect most people would be shocked at how shabbily Rosalind Wiseman has been treated,” Wiseman’s lawyer Ryan Keech told the Post.
“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.”
“We have reached out to Paramount to have things be more equitable, but Paramount is not interested in that,” he noted.
As for why she’s choosing to come forward with her story now and take it public, the author said her pursuit of “equity” is a driving force.
“For a lot of reasons I didn’t come forward for a while, and one of the reasons [is] because I was so focused on me not whining or trying to trash Tina,” she said. However, she added, “I believe strongly when you’re in a position of power and privilege that you have a responsibility to share that to create equity.”