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"Saturday Night Live" head writer and "Weekend Update" co-anchor Tina Fey explores the tortures that teenage girls inflict upon each other in her first screenplay, "Mean Girls." As you'd expect, it's a comedy, but as she told MTV News' Kelly Marino, it also puts forth a positive message.

MTV: You're so busy with "SNL," how did you find time to write a screenplay?

Tina Fey: Well, I have to say that writing the movie at the same time that I was doing "SNL" was really hard. I wrote the first draft of the movie over a summer break, because we go off the air all summer, but then I had to do all the rewrites during the "SNL" season, which was pretty rough. I always felt like I had a paper due. I didn't have one day for like a year that I didn't have that stomachache feeling of like, "Arrgh, my paper is due."

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MTV: How were you able to get into the minds of teenage girls to write it?

Fey: Well, I read this book called "Queen Bees and Wannabes" by Rosalind Wiseman, and the book is actually a nonfiction book. It's kind of a how-to guide for girls and parents of how to get through middle school and high school basically when girls are being so mean to each other. But when I read it, I actually thought it was kind of funny because the things that girls do and the way that girls will mess with each other is sort of ingenious. So I thought that there was a lot to write about there.

MTV: Lindsay Lohan plays the main character, Cady Heron. What made her the right actress for the role?

Fey: Once I saw Lindsay in "Freaky Friday" I was like, "Oh my God, we have to have this girl in the movie." She is just a really good actress, and in "Freaky Friday" she goes from playing a teenager to playing her own mom and then back and forth and back and forth. And in "Mean Girls" we needed an actress who could go from playing a completely innocent person who doesn't know anything about being in an American high school, to go to the other end of just being a complete villain and a complete bitch, basically, and then kind of work her way back.

MTV: Seeing how girls act now, how does it compare to when you were in high school? And what were you like in school? Were you in a clique?

Fey: Well, when I was in high school I was pretty much an [honors] student and just kind of a dork and I was in choir and, you know, on the school paper. And I never drank and I never smoked and I was like, "Uh ,people who drink are stupid." I was just really goody-two-shoes. But I was also kind of a jealous girl, kind of mean 'cause if I liked a guy and he liked some other girl, I would be unbelievably mean to that girl and I would just talk to my friends about her for hours and hours and hours and say bad stuff about her and, you know, really wasted a lot of my time doing that and ... wait, what was the first part of the question? I forget.

MTV: Just comparing how girls behave then versus ...

Fey: Oh, do I think that girls are meaner now? I think that girls have always been kind of the same, but I think now everything is just kind of amped up. When I was going to school in like '84 to '88, you didn't have cell phones. There was no e-mail, if you can wrap your brain around that. [She laughs.] There was no text messaging. People can just start a rumor about you now and it can just spread so fast. So I think it's a little bit more dangerous for girls now.

MTV: The movie sometimes brings to mind "Heathers," but "Heathers" is more dark and sinister, whereas "Mean Girls" is very humorous. When is it OK to laugh about a serious subject, and when is it not?

Fey: At first I thought this movie had to be funny, otherwise forget it, and so even if it's trying to have this positive message, it had to be funny the whole time. And there is some, subject-matter-wise, there is a little overlap with "Heathers," but this movie is maybe a little bit more hopeful at the end.

MTV: What kind of message do you hope young people take home with them after seeing this movie?

Fey: I hope they laugh a lot — like, I hope they have a really good time. And if there is any message to take away, I think it's just, like, a lot of times us girls are our own worst enemies, and it just doesn't have to be like that. You know, if Britney and Christina can make up and write letters to each other, then we can all get along.

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Photo: Paramount

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