Fran Drescher Talks Upcoming Musical ‘The Nanny’ and the Show’s Lasting Impact

When Fran Drescher visits New York, she embraces its fine foods. The day she spoke to us via Zoom from her New York apartment, her cousin brought a bagel from Zucker topped with ricotta cheese and salt.

“When someone generously brings something with the intention of trying to please me, I will graciously accept it,” she told her cousin off-camera.

Drescher, who was born in Queens, is no stranger to a good bagel – he ate a lot of them on The nanny, his hit 1990s comedy sitcom that ran for six seasons on CBS. The show may have been on hiatus for over two decades, but now it’s more popular than ever. New audiences discover the hilarious show about Fran Fine, a Jewish nanny who longs for Mr. Sheffield, her widowed British Broadway boss and producer while raising her three children in her Upper East Side townhouse by airing the series on HBO Max.

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Drescher was also in the spotlight after securing the presidency of SAG-AFTRA and raising awareness for his non-profit organization, Cancer Schmancer Movement. “I’m not married. I don’t have kids. But I feel a responsibility to people and I use my fame and my abilities for the greater good,” she said. so many responsibilities at 64, she tries to take every other day to rest. During these “free days” she continues to work virtually, does not need to go anywhere or have her hair and makeup done. “I have to honor my body while I teach others to do and respect the age at which I am,” she added.

Drescher is currently writing a musical based on the series with her The nanny co-creator and ex-husband, Peter Marc Jacobson. Crazy ex-girlfriend Rachel Bloom writes the music and Adam Schlesinger, founding member of the music group Fountains of Wayne, also worked with Bloom. (Unfortunately, he died of complications from COVID-19 in 2020.) Drescher recently said in an interview that it will be a few more years before the show is ready for an audience.

Meanwhile, she recently teamed up with Australian author Rebecca Kelly to publish a picture book titled N is for nanny. This is a special edition limited to 10,000 copies with 100% of the profits going to the Cancer Schmancer movement. Each page features a thematic letter from the series followed by a brief explanation of the term. For example, “G is for Good Morning Everyone” – what Drescher’s character used to say while wearing a bathrobe in countless episodes as she walked into the dining room to have breakfast with the Sheffield family and have a bagel or two once in a while.

Time Out New York spoke to Drescher about his favorite parts of the book, some hints on what to expect when directing the musical, and how the iconic series was always filled with countless celebrities. invited.

What I find remarkable is that 100% of the product of N is for nanny go to your association.

It was our supporters, the Kellys of Australia, who came up with this. It was indeed extremely generous that they didn’t even really want to be reimbursed for the cost of the book. They make the book their gift as long as it can be sold. We are so grateful. I don’t think we’ve ever been lucky enough to have such a generous offer.

Would you consider it a children’s book?

It’s like the show was: good for the whole family. It was perfect because The nanny was a nanny. This series is so popular, but there hasn’t really been any new merchandising in decades. So making a children’s book feels very fitting and I think it really captures the warmth and joy that the show has brought to so many people.

What is your favorite letter in the book?

“P is for Producer” – Peters page, but I’ve been hanging out with Renee Taylor (Sylvia Fine) here in New York and love how much she likes her “S is for Sylvia” page.

You’ve talked a lot about the fashion of the show, but I’ll name a few names. Elizabeth Taylor, Lainie Kazan, Elton John, Bette Midler, Cloris Leachman, Whoopi Goldberg twice. Rosie O’Donnell, Pamela Anderson, Jason Alexander, Marvin Hamlisch, Donald O’Connor, Rita Moreno. How did you attract so many celebrities to the show?

It was my big job to hook the stars. We did it i love lucy in this regard because Mr. Sheffield was in show business and Fran was always trying to meet the celebrity he was working with. Because the show was very popular and there was no social media at the time, it made it a great platform to get people into the show if we were willing to write the episode towards anything what they wanted to promote.

Elton John continued to promote the Elton John AIDS Foundation, Bette Midler continued [to promote] the New York Restoration Project. Elizabeth Taylor was selling her black pearls – I think – or it was perfume or something. Everyone was promoting themselves. Jay Leno was playing himself, and he was on The show tonight at the time.

So you individually contacted all the celebrities to get them.

Yeah. If I met them, I would say, “We have to get you on the show. Everyone does it. And we will write it for you. Anything you want to promote. We’ll make it part of the show. We were very interested and motivated to get these stars because they were rating points for us.

Who is your favorite guest celebrity and why?

Rosie O’Donnell is a personal friend of mine, but the very first person on the show was my dear friend, Dan Aykroyd. He played the refrigerator repairman, a character he made famous on SNL where you see the crack in his ass, and he did it on The nanny. It was the beginning because he was so generous to support us in this way. It was in our first season.

Who is the celebrity you tried to get on the show, but couldn’t?

Well, Barbra Streisand (Laughs). We have Roslyn Kind.

Did Barbra say no or was she just not available?

I don’t think she really had any interest in appearing on the show, but she really enjoyed being this larger-than-life character that Fran adored. In fact, many years later she told us that at that time [the show ran], she really wasn’t that active in her career. It was The nanny it really elevated her every week in a way that nothing else did. In the episode where Fran has the opportunity to go to a Barbra Streisand concert with CC’s father, she takes the high road – as she always does – and lets CC go. I received a handwritten note from Barbra saying how much she enjoyed the episode.

You met her in person at this point in your life, right?

I know her. We both live in Malibu. We are not close friends. We went to dinner together. We went to parties together.

I was surprised you mentioned Bernadette Peters in an episode, but she was never on the show.

I really don’t know why. But if we ever restart it, I’m sure we could get it all [Broadway]. Patti LuPone, Bernadette Peters and new talents. We just saw Sarah Bareilles and she is just amazing.

You saw her in In the woods In downtown New-York ?

She was funny. Peter and I were surprised because you wouldn’t have seen this [when she starred in] Waitress. But in this she was very funny. Peter and I thought she was really good.

Are you going to have Barbra Streisand as a character in the musical?

Absolutely. Even if it’s just the same title that she played [on the show.] But I think we have something creative for this Fran obsession with the musical.


I can’t tell you!

Is the musical based on the whole series where it starts with Fran selling beauty products or will it be a two and a half hour episode in a musical?

It will not seem episodic. It’s going to be something that gives Fran a struggle, a journey, and a different resolve to the show. In the series, just about everyone has changed around her. She hasn’t really grown or learned much. When you’re a central character in theatre, you have to follow that hero’s journey, and that’s what we infused into the musical.

Will it be like My beautiful lady, like in the episode where Mr. Sheffield and Niles turn her into a society lady?

No, it’s not going to be like that. Fran is Fran and she is a traveling woman. Peter says say no more!

Alright, let me ask this though. I guess there will be recurring jokes from the show that you put on the show.

It’s definitely going to have the same humor and all the characters.

I imagine a number like Anne with all the butlers and maids dancing around the mansion.

I hope we will have stuff like that. I mean, we write it that way. We’ll see what happens at the end. That’s the beauty of putting it on stage and taking it out of the little box. You’re on a Broadway stage, you see the show within the show. You have a cast of characters from the Mr. Sheffield show, a cast of characters who run the house, and residents of Flushing. All of this was represented by perhaps one person [on the show]. On Broadway, you have a whole chorus of people to portray that and bring it to life.