Take My Advice: The Ann and Abby Story
This made-for-cable biopic is a slightly campy recounting of the lives, careers, and inbred rivalry between twin-sister gossip columnists Ann Landers and Abigail Van Buren -- both characters played by Wendie Malick, in what one critic described as "a weird tour de force." Covering a period between the early '50s and the late '90s, the film begins with the childhood of Ann and Abby (née Esther and Pauline Friedman), growing up Jewish in the heart of WASP country (namely, Sioux City, IA). Their subsequent lives develop in an eerily simultaneous fashion, as both are married in a dual ceremony, both launch their journalistic careers, and both achieve national success at almost exactly the same time. Fiercely competitive, the two women strive gallantly to be as "different" as possible, yet the vast reading public continues to refer to them both in the same breath, though those same readers are almost evenly divided in following the advice dispensed individually by Ann and Abby. As it turns out, the rift between the sisters can only be repaired when they learn to follow their own advice. With so much attention lavished on the two protagonists, it is nothing short of amazing that the ladies' husbands and children are given any screen time at all. Covering its four-decade time period in typical movie-shorthand fashion (virtually every scene takes place during a famous historical event), the film leaves the viewer breathless, though probably no more knowledgeable about what really made Ann and Abby tick than when the story began. Take My Advice: The Ann and Abby Story first aired July 19, 1999, on the Lifetime channel.