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March 30, 2023

'Mean Girls' movie musical begins filming in Monmouth County

The new project, shooting in Middletown through April, is written by Upper Darby native Tina Fey

Production crews descended upon a New Jersey town this month to begin work on a film that promises to be "so fetch."

A "Mean Girls" movie musical has started filming in Middletown, Monmouth County. Paramount Pictures' upcoming flick is based on the Broadway musical which was inspired by the 2004 film of the same name. Upper Darby native Tina Fey, who wrote the musical and previous movie, has written the new project as well.

"North Shore High School," the name of the fictional Illinois school where the "Mean Girls" franchise is set, has been emblazoned on buses and the front of Mater Dei Prep school in Middletown, according to photos posted to Twitter by News 12 NJ reporter Lauren Due.

Last month, Grant Wilfley Casting put out a call for extras to portray high school students, teachers, parents and neighbors for filming that would take place in and around Middletown starting in March. Filming is scheduled to finish by April 19.

This will be the latest installment in the classic teen comedy franchise. 

“I’m very excited to bring Mean Girls back to the big screen,” Fey told Playbill in 2020. “It’s been incredibly gratifying to see how much the movie and the musical have meant to audiences. ... (These characters) are my Marvel Universe, and I love them dearly.”

The original 2004 "Mean Girls" comedy followed new girl Cady Heron (Lindsay Lohan) as she attempted to navigate the cliques of high school after being homeschooled for years. All hell breaks loose when Cady falls in with teen queen Regina George (Rachel McAdams) and her army of perfectly-polished "Plastics" (Amanda Seyfried, Lacey Chabert). Fey herself appeared in the film as teacher Ms. Norbury, and cast her friend and fellow "Saturday Night Live" alumna Amy Poehler as Regina's mother.

Following the success of the movie, Fey brought the premise to Broadway from 2018 through 2021 with the Tony Award-nominated "Mean Girls" musical, which boasted a soundtrack of original songs. The music was composed by Fey's husband and frequent collaborator, Jeff Richmond.

The upcoming movie musical will feature some familiar faces from the film and Broadway adaptation.

Reneé Rapp will play Regina, after previously playing the role on Broadway. Ashley Park, who played Gretchen Wieners in the original musical, will also be in the movie musical, although her role has not been revealed. Fey, also a producer of the film, and Tim Meadows, who played principal Mr. Duvall in the 2004 film, will be reprising their roles from the original movie.

The actresses behind the original "Plastics" (McAdams, Lohan, Seyfried and Chabert) have hinted they would gladly return for a cameo if Fey asked.

"All four of us are 100 percent into it,” Seyfried told Entertainment Tonight in February. “Maybe the mothers of our characters? That’s what I was thinking, but listen, I have not even seen the script.”

New faces to the franchise include Angourie Rice, Auli’i Cravalho, Christopher Briney, Jon Hamm, Busy Philipps and Jenna Fischer.

It seems that the drama isn't entirely relegated to the high school cliques on screen. The source material for Fey's 2004 movie, which launched the successful franchise, comes from the book "Queen Bees and Wannabes" by Rosalind Wiseman. When Wiseman sold the film rights to her book in 2002 for $400,000, she relinquished all rights to original motion pictures and derivative works such as musicals and TV shows.

Wiseman is now considering legal action against Fey because her contract included net profits, but she claims she has not seen any money since selling the film rights.

“We created this thing, Tina took my words, she did an extraordinary job with it,” Wiseman told the New York Post earlier this month. “She brought it to life and the material has been used and recycled for the last 20 years. ... I’m clearly recognized and acknowledged by Tina as the source material, the inspiration. I’m recognized and yet I deserve nothing?” 

Although a release date has not yet been set, the "Mean Girls" movie musical will be available on Paramount+.

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