Natalie Portman Set to Direct and Star as Sister Advice Columnists Ann Landers and Abigail Van Buren

Posted on August 22, 2018


Did you ever hear a bit of movie news that made you go, “Hunh. That is an amazingly perfect idea for a movie?” Well, blow us away, Town & Country:

“Natalie Portman is now set to direct and star in a new film about the drama between identical twins Esther Lederer and Pauline Phillips, better known as the voices behind the dueling “Dear Abby” and Ann Landers advice columns.

Born Esther Pauline and Pauline Esther Friedman in Sioux City, Iowa in 1918, the sisters reportedly grew up incredibly close, dressing identically and even sharing a bed as children. They married their beaus in a huge 700-guest double wedding, wearing matching dresses, veils, and hairstyles. The even shared their first foray into the advice world, co-authoring a column for Morningside College’s school paper under a shared pen-name when they were students.

The closeness wasn’t built to last, though. In 1955, Esther beat out dozens of other writers in a contest to land the pseudonymous Ann Landers advice column for the Chicago Sun-Times (she would later acquire the rights to the Landers name and move the column to the Chicago Tribune.)”



After her rather stunning turn as a PTSD-suffering Jackie Kennedy in Jackie, we find ourselves willing to consider Natalie Portman for just about any biopic about a strong-jawed, stubborn, complicated woman in 20th Century history. What can we say? She blew us away, not least because she’s so physically unlike the woman she portrayed and yet it made not the slightest difference to the power – and we’d argue the truthfulness – of her portrayal.

But with Eppie Lederer and Pauline Phillips, she may have found the women she was born to play. It’s never the strongest requirement in a biopic, but we honestly can wait to see her done up in the wigs and pearls. There’s just enough of a strong resemblance that the right costuming, hair and makeup could turn it into an astonishing one. Second, those two gals are long past deserving their due as A-List cultural figures of mid-20th Century America. Not only were they hugely influential, but they were colorful as hell and a total hoot. Plus their rivalry is the stuff Oscar wins are made of. ‘

We found Portman’s directorial effort, the Hebrew language drama A Tale of Love and Darkness, to be fairly tight, emotional, nuanced and subtle. We’re not sure that’s the right approach for this material, but she showed a smartness and an understanding of the medium. There’s going to be much for her to explore here. The story of the Friedman twins and their sister-fueled rise to prominence is also the story of two mid-western Jewish women who became synonymous with mid-Century middle class white values through wit and (literally) good common sense. Everything about this sounds right up her alley as an artist and actress.


[Photo Credit: INSTARImages, Getty Images]

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