15 Fetch Facts About Mean Girls

Paramount Home Entertainment
Paramount Home Entertainment

Happy Mean Girls Day! Here are some things you might not have contemplated about this already cult-status classic. Which even has its own widely celebrated national day of recognition.

1. MEAN GIRLS WAS INSPIRED BY A SELF-HELP BOOK FOR PARENTS.

Tina Fey was inspired to write Mean Girls, her very first screenplay, after reading Rosalind Wiseman’s bestselling book Queen Bees & Wannabes: Helping Your Daughter Survive Cliques, Gossip, Boyfriends & Other Realities of Adolescence. As the book’s title suggests, Wiseman offers advice and strategies to parents on how to help their daughters navigate the choppy waters of adolescence. Much of the book contains anecdotes culled from Wiseman’s time spent leading workshops in schools nationwide through Empower, a non-profit anti-violence program she cofounded.

“You may feel that it’s not worth making a federal case of not getting invited to a birthday party or letting your daughter blow off one friend for another,” Wiseman writes. “But these aren’t trivial issues; they lay the groundwork for girls faking their feelings, pretending to be someone they’re not, pleasing others at their own expense, or otherwise sacrificing self-esteem and authenticity.”

2. LINDSAY LOHAN’S CHARACTER IS NAMED AFTER TINA FEY’S COLLEGE ROOMMATE ...

While studying drama at the University of Virginia in the early ’90s, Tina Fey and her college buddy Cady Garey shared what sounds like a rather squalid apartment in Charlottesville: “We really didn’t have any furniture,” Garey told UVA's alumni magazine in 2013. “[We had] just mattresses on the floor and a bean bag in the living room.”

Still, it must have been a pretty great bonding experience; according to the magazine, Cady Garey is the namesake for Mean Girls’s main heroine, Cady Heron.

3. … AND (POSSIBLY) ELIZABETH CADY STANTON.

IMDb’s Mean Girls trivia page points out that “Cady” also keeps with the spelling of suffragist Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s maiden name, in a possible shout-out to female empowerment.

4. TINA FEY HAD TROUBLE WITH MS. NORBURY’S MATH-RELATED LINES.

Fey chose to play a math teacher in an attempt to counteract the stereotype that girls can’t do math, she told The New York Times back in 2004. However, she admitted that she did not understand any of the lines she was reciting. So how did she get the dialogue? “My friend’s boyfriend is a calculus teacher in the Bronx,” Fey said. “I took his lesson plans.”

5. THERE’S A LITTLE BIT OF COURTNEY LOVE AND ALEC BALDWIN IN REGINA GEORGE.

“At the heart of Regina George was a really angry kid who had no boundaries or guidance,” Rachel McAdams said in The New York Times's oral history of the film. To channel Regina’s fury, director Mark Waters encouraged McAdams “to listen to Courtney Love at a high volume” (we’re assuming McAdams means she listened to Love’s band Hole) as well as to watch Alec Baldwin’s notoriously menacing, expletive-laden scene in Glengarry Glen Ross.

6. “DAMIAN” INSTILLED SERIOUS COURAGE IN ACTOR DANIEL FRANZESE.

“When I was cast in the role of ‘Damian’ in Mean Girls, I was TERRIFIED to play this part,” Daniel Franzese wrote on Bent. However, in the next sentence, Franzese captured what was so refreshing about Damian: “This was a natural and true representation of a gay teenager—a character we laughed with instead of at.” Franzese says that years after Mean Girls, grown men—some of them in tears—approached him on the street to thank him for being a role model.

Though Franzese says his friends and family have known that he is gay, he decided a decade later to come out publicly. “Perhaps this will help someone else,” he wrote at the letter’s conclusion. “I had to remind myself that my parents named me Daniel because it means ‘God is my judge.’ So, I’m not afraid anymore. Of Hollywood, the closet or mean girls. Thank you for that, Damian.”

7. THE DOWNSIDE OF BEING DAMIAN: FRANZESE IS CONSTANTLY BOMBARDED WITH HIS MOST FAMOUS LINE.

Ever since Mean Girls, Franzese is often recognized. “It doesn’t matter where I am; you know it’s me. I don’t really blend,” he told Cosmopolitan. “And sometimes it’s nerve-wracking. I can be talking to someone in a bar and it’s chill, and then they’re like, ‘YOU GO GLEN COCO!’”

Glen Coco was, of course, a minor, if not virtually nonexistent, Mean Girls character. In fact, the back of Glen Coco’s head seems to appear in only one scene in which he does nothing more than receive four candy canes from an encouraging Damian. Glen Coco, however, has, awesomely and inexplicably, become a meme.

8. THE STRANGELY NOTORIOUS GLEN COCO WAS PLAYED BY A CANADIAN ACTOR NAMED DAVID REALE.

In 2013, BuzzFeed conducted an important investigation into Glen Coco and discovered that, though his role was uncredited in the film, his face is actually fully visible in the scene in which Gretchen reads her impassioned essay on Julius Caesar (he’s sitting directly in front of Lindsay Lohan). BuzzFeed did some further digging and discovered that Glen Coco was played by David Reale, a Canadian actor who has also appeared on Suits, the U.S. version of Skins, and on a couple episodes of Queer as Folk.

9. AMANDA SEYFRIED ALMOST PLAYED AN ETHEREAL YET FRIGHTENING REGINA GEORGE.


Getty Images

In 2013, right after playing challenging roles in Les Miserables and Lovelace, Amanda Seyfried told IndieWire that she still looked back at her role as Mean Girls’s rather, um, simple Karen Smith as her best work. “I was so innocent. I was so green,“ she says. “I look back and I’m like, ‘Really, I thought I was doing a terrible job.’ But it was written so well and so wonderfully directed. Mark Waters made me look good; he made me funny. And Tina Fey wrote the coolest script of all time.”

Seyfried almost played the role of Regina George, Waters told Vulture. "She tested for Regina and was kind of brilliant, and very different than Rachel's approach,” Waters says. “She played it in a much more ethereal but still kind of scary way. She was more frightening, but oddly, less intimidating."

10. THERE'S A REAL JANIS IAN.

Janis Ian was the first musical guest on SNL. Ian won a Grammy for her song “At Seventeen,” which is all about Mean Girls’s main theme: the insecurities that go along with being a teenager.

In 2008, Ian told TIME that she bonded with her friend Janis Joplin over similar feelings. “I loved her. I think we fell in together because we had things in common. We both felt fat. We both had bad skin. We both felt like nothing we wore looked right. We were both outsiders, and she was very protective of me in a really nice way.”

11. LACEY CHABERT HEARS "FETCH" AT LEAST 100 TIMES A DAY

Perhaps even more iconic than “You Go, Glen Coco!” in the world of Mean Girls is, of course, anything related to “fetch,” as in “That’s so fetch!” (Gretchen Wieners) and “Stop trying to make fetch happen” (Regina George). The whole “fetch” thing is so enduring that even the Obama White House made a fetch-inspired joke involving Bo the First Dog in 2013.

“People tweet at me every day hundreds of times, if not thousands of times [with] lines from the movie: ‘That’s so fetch!’,” Lacey Chabert, who played Toaster Strudel heiress Gretchen Wieners, told Entertainment Weekly. In fact, “fetch” has even followed Chabert offline, to the unlikeliest of places. “I was at the pharmacy and I was sick and trying to get medicine, and the pharmacist just looked at me and goes, ‘You don’t look like you feel very fetch today.’”

12. AARON SAMUELS (A.K.A. JONATHAN BENNETT) STILL LOOKS SEXY WITH HIS HAIR PUSHED BACK ...

... as the author of the satirical The Burn Cookbook: An Unofficial Authorized Cookbook for Mean Girls Fans.

13. AMY POEHLER SCHOOLED KEVIN G. ON HOW TO RAP.

Though Tina Fey wrote the Mean Girls script, she left the penning of mathlete Kevin Gnapoor’s talent-show rap to her pal Amy Poehler. “Amy definitely coached him on how to do the rap, and she actually gave him some of the moves and choreography for it,” Waters told Vulture. In fact, an amazing YouTube video (above) exists of Poehler performing the rap circa 2004, with Fey and Lohan as her hype women.

Speaking of Kevin G. (a.k.a. Rajiv Surendra): He's now a professional calligrapher. He creates beautiful chalk walls, logos, and invitations. He's also a potter, painter, and a writer. In 2017, his memoir—The Elephants in My Backyard: A Memoir of Chasing a Dream and Facing Failure—was published.

14. ROSALIND WISEMAN THINKS TINA FEY MOSTLY GOT HER BOOK RIGHT.

Except in her workshops, Wiseman doesn’t do trust falls. “I do not do trust falls, I have never done trust falls, I will never do trust falls,” Wiseman told The Wire.

Still, she wouldn’t change anything. “Both Tina and I seem to be trying to carve out space of how to give women [a] voice in public,” Wiseman says. “So it’s pretty cool to have a collaboration between two people who say, 'Yeah, let’s work together to do this, because you’re smart, you’re funny, I think you’re going to do a good job, let’s try.'"

15. IT WAS TURNED INTO A BROADWAY MUSICAL.

Fey, her husband Jeff Richmond, and Tony award-nominated lyricist Nell Benjamin created a Broadway version of Mean Girls that opened at Washington, D.C.'s National Theatre in October 2017 and moved to Broadway's August Wilson Theatre in April 2018. It earned 12 Tony nominations earlier this year, and won Fey a Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Book of a Musical.

Can You Guess J.K. Rowling's Fantastic Beast From Its Magical Power?

The Many Lives of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah"

Leonard Cohen in London in June 1974.
Leonard Cohen in London in June 1974.
Michael Putland/Getty Images

In the late 1970s, Leonard Cohen sat down to write a song about god, sex, love, and other mysteries of human existence that bring us to our knees for one reason or another. The legendary singer-songwriter, who was in his early forties at the time, knew how to write a hit: He had penned "Suzanne," "Bird on the Wire," "Lover, Lover, Lover," and dozens of other songs for both himself and other popular artists of the time. But from the very beginning, there was something different about what would become "Hallelujah"—a song that took five years and an estimated 80 drafts for Cohen to complete.

In the 35 years since it was originally released, "Hallelujah" has been covered by more than 300 other artists in virtually every genre. Willie Nelson, k.d. lang, Justin Timberlake, Bono, Brandi Carlile, Bon Jovi, Susan Boyle, Pentatonix, and Alexandra Burke—the 2008 winner of the UK version of The X Factor—are just a few of the individuals who have attempted to put their own stamp on the song. After Burke’s soulful version was downloaded 105,000 times in its first day, setting a new European record, “Hallelujah” soon became a staple of TV singing shows.

It's an impressive feat by any standard, but even more so when you consider that "Hallelujah"—one of the most critically acclaimed and frequently covered songs of the modern era—was originally stuck on side two of 1984’s Various Positions, an album that Cohen’s American record label deemed unfit for release.

“Leonard, we know you’re great,” Cohen recalled CBS Records boss Walter Yetnikoff telling him, “but we don’t know if you’re any good.”

 

Yetnikoff wasn’t totally off-base. With its synth-heavy ’80s production, Cohen’s version of “Hallelujah” doesn’t announce itself as the chill-inducing secular hymn it’s now understood to be. (Various Positions was finally released in America on the indie label Passport in 1985.) Part of why it took Cohen five years to write the song was that he couldn’t decide how much of the Old Testament stuff to include.

“It had references to the Bible in it, although these references became more and more remote as the song went from the beginning to the end,” Cohen said. “Finally I understood that it was not necessary to refer to the Bible anymore. And I rewrote this song; this is the ‘secular’ ‘Hallelujah.’”

The first two verses introduce King David—the skilled harp player and great uniter of Israel—and the Nazarite strongman Samson. In the scriptures, both David and Samson are adulterous poets whose ill-advised romances (with Bathsheba and Delilah, respectively) lead to some big problems.

In the third verse of his 1984 studio version, Cohen grapples with the question of spirituality. When he’s accused of taking the Lord’s name in vain, Cohen responds, hilariously, “What’s it to ya?” He insists there’s “a blaze of light in every word”—every perception of the divine, perhaps—and declares there to be no difference between “the holy or the broken Hallelujah.” Both have value.

“I wanted to push the Hallelujah deep into the secular world, into the ordinary world,” Cohen once said. “The Hallelujah, the David’s Hallelujah, was still a religious song. So I wanted to indicate that Hallelujah can come out of things that have nothing to do with religion.”

 

Amazingly, Cohen's original "Hallelujah" pales in comparison to Velvet Underground founder John Cale’s five-verse rendition for the 1991 Cohen tribute album I’m Your Fan. Cale had seen Cohen perform the song live, and when he asked the Canadian singer-songwriter to fax over the lyrics, he received 15 pages. “I went through and just picked out the cheeky verses,” Cale said.

Cale’s pared down piano-and-vocals arrangement inspired Jeff Buckley to record what is arguably the definitive “Hallelujah,” a haunting, seductive performance found on the late singer-songwriter’s one and only studio album, 1994’s Grace. Buckley’s death in 1997 only heightened the power of his recording, and within a few years, “Hallelujah” was everywhere. Cale’s version turned up in the 2001 animated film Shrek, and the soundtrack features an equally gorgeous version by Rufus Wainwright.

In 2009, after the song appeared in Zack Snyder's Watchmen, Cohen agreed with a critic who called for a moratorium on covers. “I think it’s a good song,” Cohen told The Guardian. “But too many people sing it.”

Except “Hallelujah” is a song that urges everyone to sing. That’s kind of the point. The title is from a compound Hebrew word comprising hallelu, to praise joyously, and yah, the name of god. As writer Alan Light explains in his 2013 book The Holy or the Broken: Leonard Cohen, Jeff Buckley, and the Unlikely Ascent of "Hallelujah,” the word hallelujah was originally an imperative—a command to praise the Lord. In the Christian tradition, it’s less an imperative than an expression of joy: “Hallelujah!” Cohen seemingly plays on both meanings.

 

Cohen’s 1984 recording ends with a verse that begins, “I did my best / It wasn’t much.” It’s the humble shrug of a mortal man and the sly admission of an ambitious songwriter trying to capture the essence of humanity in a pop song. By the final lines, Cohen concedes “it all went wrong,” but promises to have nothing but gratitude and joy for everything he has experienced.

Putting aside all the biblical allusions and poetic language, “Hallelujah” is a pretty simple song about loving life despite—or because of—its harshness and disappointments. That message is even clearer in Cale’s five-verse rendition, the guidepost for all subsequent covers, which features the line, “Love is not a victory march.” Cale also adds in Cohen’s verse about sex, and how every breath can be a Hallelujah. Buckley, in particular, realized the carnal aspect of the song, calling his version “a Hallelujah to the orgasm.”

“Hallelujah” can be applied to virtually any situation. It’s great for weddings, funerals, TV talent shows, and cartoons about ogres. Although Cohen’s lyrics don’t exactly profess religious devotion, “Hallelujah” has become a popular Christmas song that’s sometimes rewritten with more pious lyrics. Agnostics and atheists can also find plenty to love about “Hallelujah.” It’s been covered more than 300 times because it’s a song for everyone.

When Cohen died on November 7, 2016, at the age of 82, renewed interest in “Hallelujah” vaulted Cohen's version of the song onto the Billboard Hot 100 for the first time. Despite its decades of pop culture ubiquity, it took more than 30 years and Cohen's passing for “Hallelujah”—the very essence of which is about finding beauty amid immense sadness and resolving to move forward—to officially become a hit song.

“There’s no solution to this mess,” Cohen once said, describing the human comedy at the heart of “Hallelujah. “The only moment that you can live here comfortably in these absolutely irreconcilable conflicts is in this moment when you embrace it all and you say 'Look, I don't understand a f***ing thing at all—Hallelujah! That's the only moment that we live here fully as human beings.”

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