Natalie Portman Will Play Identical Twins In A Biopic About Rival Advice Columnists, Dear Abby & Ann Landers
The currently untitled film will explore the real-life tumultuous relationship between sisters Pauline Phillips (née Pauline Esther Friedman) and Eppie Lederer (née Esther Pauline Friedman), according to Page Six. Phillips and Lederer entered into a decades-long feud after taking jobs writing competing advice columns, "Dear Abby" for the San Francisco Chronicle and "Ask Ann Landers" for the Chicago-Sun Times, respectively. Portman will direct the film and star as both Lederer and Phillips.
Representation for Portman did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The news shocked (and excited) some fans who admitted they didn't know the legendary columnists were related.
"I was a faithful reader of the Dear Abby and Ann Landers columns every single day after school until I graduated high school, and I am JUST NOW learning that 'Abby' and 'Ann' were twin sisters irl," one Twitter user wrote. "I don't use the phrase 'mind blown' lightly, but my mind is truly blown."
I was a faithful reader of the Dear Abby and Ann Landers columns every single day after school until I graduated high school, and I am JUST NOW learning that "Abby" and "Ann" were twin sisters irl. I don't use the phrase "mind blown" lightly, but my mind is truly blown— jordyn (@jrdync) August 22, 2018
Others have pointed out that this biopic is the grown-up version of the Parent Trap that we so desperately need and deserve.
Though both sisters have since died, their daughters, former and current advice columnists Margo Howard and Jeanne Phillips, have continued the family drama. In 2002, Howard accused her cousin — who has taken over her mother's position as Dear Abby — of being "self-serving and loopy" for penning an emotional goodbye letter to Lederer after she died from terminal cancer.
"They really had no relationship," Howard told The Los Angeles Times in 2002. "My mother was very kind to everyone, [but] she thought Jeanne had her limitations." Spicy!
When asked about her feelings about Portman's film, Howard told Refinery29 the following via Twitter: "I only knew about this from Variety. A similar movie was made years ago (with Wendy Mallick, who’s 8 feet tall) playing both parts and it was lousy. The Portman movie has her attached but no financing."
Howard later followed up with Refinery29, saying that she'd since spoken with her lawyer.*
"My CA. lawyer just told me that unless my mother died in CA. (she did not) these people can't make such a movie without dealing with the estate," Howard wrote. She also added, "The estate is me" in French.
Howard's claims have not yet been confirmed.
Katie Robbins (The Affair) wrote the script, while Dani Melia and Peter Saraf (Little Miss Sunshine, Safety Not Guaranteed) will produce, according to Page Six. There's no word yet on additional casting or a release date for the film.
*This post has been updated at 4:45 p.m.