From Streaming on HBO Max to a Broadway Musical, Fran Drescher Talks 'The Nanny'

by Steve Duffy

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Tuesday April 13, 2021

Fran Drescher
Fran Drescher  (Source:Associated Press)

"The Nanny" has found a streaming home. Fran Drescher's hit series, which aired on CBS for six seasons throughout the 1990s, was nearly impossible to be streamed online until HBO Max put the series up two weeks ago.

Drescher co-created (with her ex-husband Peter Marc Jacobson) and starred in the series — which follows Fran Fine, a Jewish fashionista from Flushing, Queens, New York, who becomes the nanny of three children from the New York-British high society.

When they came up with the idea, they pitched it to CBS as a spin on 'The Sound of Music,' except, in Drescher's words: "Instead of Julie Andrews, I come to the door."

Throughout the 1980s, Drescher made her name as a comedic character actor in films such as "Gorp," "The Hollywood Knights," and "Doctor Detroit." Her character in "The Nanny" made Drescher a star, thanks in part to the authenticity she brought to the role. Like her Fran Fine, Drescher was born and raised in Long Island (Queens, to be exact). She also conceived the character as a tribute to her mother, who did work, like Fran Fine, in a bridal shop.

EDGE spoke to Drescher recently about the show coming to HBO Max, "The "Nanny" musical, her longtime support for LGBTQ rights, and, as a cancer survivor, Cancer Schmancer, a non-profit organization aimed to educate women about their health risks.

EDGE: What a year! What did you do during quarantine?

Fran Drescher: I was blessed to adopt a rescue dog just days before the lockdown. So that was very serendipitous because I would have been alone. Overnight, all of my staff and employees stopped coming. I don't know how I would have gotten through this without my angel, Grace. I realized I'm a pretty good housekeeper, and I enjoyed doing the cooking and cleaning for myself. I eventually got into baking, which always intimidated me. Also, I began to garden, which I really enjoy. I will say I don't miss wearing heels, and I never got out of my bathrobe.

EDGE: What excites you most about "The Nanny" streaming on HBO Max?

Fran Drescher: Well, you know, it's never really left the airwaves. Quite honestly, you could have watched it somewhere in syndication. However, those episodes are so chopped up to allow for an increased amount of advertising. That's the nature of the beast when a show that goes into reruns. Thanks to HBO Max, we are going to be able to watch it the way it deserves to be seen. I feel really honored that they chose "The Nanny" to be part of their streaming family. Now, the fans who love the show can watch it in its entirety with no commercials. This will be the first time that I will be seeing the show without commercials, because when you hand in the episodes to the network for primetime airing, they show it to you with the commercials. So, for me, this is really a great privilege and a great opportunity. "The Nanny" is one of those shows, that straddles the fence of being fun, edgy, and filled with gay humor with double entendre that allows the entire family to watch it in their own way.

Fran Drescher on "The Nanny"  (Source: CBS)

EDGE: You had an amazing wardrobe on the show. Do you have a favorite Fran Fine outfit?

Fran Drescher: Well, there were so many great ones. When I think of them, it would have to be the first outfit we see her wearing when she arrives at the Sheffields' house. She is wearing the black suit with the leopard collar. For me, that outfit just sets the tone for the rest of the series. Plus, all the gowns that she wore. The circular staircase was designed specifically for me to be able to make an entrance and showcase my outfits. Brenda Cooper, the show's costume designer, was amazing!

EDGE: Did you know it would be a hit immediately or when did you realize that?

Fran Drescher: We knew we caught lightning in a bottle the night we shot the pilot. No one had ever seen the show before. No one knew the characters. No one was a household name. And yet the audience got it. They were with us every step of the way. They laughed in all the right places. They were anticipating the conflict. You know, before it even happened. We were completely in sync with the audience and it was just magical.

EDGE: If "The Nanny" was to get a reboot what would Fran be up to?

Fran Drescher: Well, I think maybe she would be a fashion influencer. I could also see her as a kid's rights activist, gay rights activist, or women's activist. She had a big heart and she definitely always followed it.

Fran Drescher  (Source: Associated Press)

EDGE: I heard there was some talk about a reboot with Cardi B. Is that still in the works?

Fran Drescher: I would love to see a reboot, but we have to wait until after "The Nanny" musical opens on Broadway. We really have to honor our agreement with the Broadway producer. They do not want to have to compete with a new television series.

EDGE: You have been such a strong activist of LGBTQ rights. What does the gay community mean to you?

Fran Drescher: I know and love a lot of people within the gay community, both male and female, including my gay ex-husband, soulmate, and love of my life, Peter Marc Jacobson. I believe everyone has a right to live an authentic life. So as a straight woman, I am extremely passionate and go to the mat constantly for gay civil liberties. I was one of the first celebrities to go very public, through the ACLU, for same-sex marriage even when they didn't want me to. I stood my ground and was not going to back down. I'm a big believer, once you are blessed with being a celebrity, you got to use it for the greater good or you're wasting it. "The Nanny" was well received within the gay community. I believe it had all the elements that were very appealing to a lot of gay people. The show was celebrated at gay bars and had Nanny viewing parties. I've been very blessed with the support of the gay community. And, they've been a big part of my success. It's definitely been a mutually beneficial relationship.

Fran Drescher and Charles Shaughnessy in a promotional photo for "The Nanny"  (Source: CBS)

EDGE: You have already accomplished a lot in your career. Is there something yet to accomplish?

Fran Drescher: I'd like to direct an independent film or get into more directing and television. I have another book in my head that I really need to write. I want to live in Europe for a chunk of time that makes me feel like I've had the experience of living in another country for like, a good year, maybe, or just several months. Maybe even get proficient with the language.

EDGE: How has your foundation, Cancer Schmancer, coped through the pandemic?

Fran Drescher: We have curated the most cutting edge, interesting and brilliant doctors from around the world who are actively speaking on very practical ways to build up your immune system so that you stack the chips in your favor of not catching COVID-19. We felt that staying healthy has been a noticeably absent conversation on the national broadcast of how this could be an opportunity to get a massive populace of people being healthier, eating healthier, and living healthier. When you take care of your immune system, your immune system takes care of you. So, as an organization, we have become very outspoken during this time. We are a nonprofit, we're not like the national cancer organization that makes most of their money through 80% of pharmaceutical companies. We are going to continue to educate and motivate people to take control of their bodies.

EDGE: What can you tell us about "The Nanny" the musical?

Fran Drescher: I'm very excited about the musical. Peter would like to do a crossover between the Broadway cast and the television cast if there is a reboot. I would love to have Charles Shaughnessy, who originated the role of Mr. Sheffield be a part of the reboot somehow. I would also love to see a more ethnic and racially diverse cast for both. I would love someone like Cardi B playing Fran, and I could play her mother Sylvia.

"The Nanny" is now streaming on HBO Max

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