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BWW Interview: Fran Drescher Talks THE NANNY on HBO Max, if She'd Ever Star in the Musical Adaptation, Her Spirituality & More!

Will The Nanny come to Broadway? Fran Drescher tells us all about her plans for the upcoming musical adaptation.

BWW Interview: Fran Drescher Talks THE NANNY on HBO Max, if She'd Ever Star in the Musical Adaptation, Her Spirituality & More!

Fran Drescher feels like someone who was born to be iconic - the chutzpah, the voice, the joie de vivre (if you don't get the reference, finish reading this interview and then start streaming The Nanny on HBO Max). When The Nanny first aired in 1993, Fran Drescher was launched into TV superstardom, dazzling all with her sparkling wit and comedic genius.

Throughout the years, she has continued to not only entertain, but educate and inspire through her passionate, outspoken activism. She is an LGBTQ rights activist, and continually works to raise awareness for women's health issues. She previously served as a Public Diplomacy Envoy for Women's Health Issues, is the founder of the Cancer Schmancer Movement, and has been awarded the The Albert Einstein Medical School Lifetime Achievement Award, the John Wayne Institute Woman of Achievement Award, the Gilda Award, the City of Hope Woman of the Year Award, and more. Drescher is also a two-time Emmy and two-time Golden Globe nominee for iconic performance as Fran Fine on The Nanny.

The Nanny, with its timeless charm, sharp comedy, cast chemistry and sartorial gloriousness, is now available to stream on HBO Max. It is also currently being developed into a Broadway musical, featuring a book co-written by Drescher and Peter Marc Jacobson, with lyrics by Rachel Bloom, and music by Bloom and the late Adam Schlesinger.

We spoke with Fran Drescher about The Nanny's enduring legacy, the development of the Broadway musical, if she'll ever return to a sitcom, how she's changed during this past year, and much more!


So, let me start out by asking, how have you been doing this past year? What has this past year been like for you?

It's been an evolvement of lots of dots that have connected. Just weeks before lockdown my last dog had a stroke and died and I was very grief-stricken, but I felt like in my heart I knew I needed to get another dog right away. And within days of his passing I started looking on Petfinder. I loved the dog that I went to meet, and she wasn't ready to be released because she was still recovering from a surgery and still needed to get spayed and all that. But I picked her up literally three days before lockdown. And I didn't have any help with my house, nobody was coming over, so I started doing all my own gardening, I started doing all my cleaning, and training the dog, and taking the dog for walks...

And then working on my foundation, my organization, the Cancer Schmancer Movement. We immediately began to do an interview series called Corona Care 4 You, where we interviewed a lot of outside-of-the-box thinking medical doctors on their practical tips on how you can fortify your immune system and tip the scales in your favor of not being so vulnerable to the virus.

We're doing a lot of Zoom stuff, and we actually did a reunion of The Nanny original cast as a table read of the pilot script on Zoom, and that was very successful, it was viewed by millions all over the world on a few different platforms. I think that might have instigated a renewed interest by the studio, as well as certain stream channels, to examine this enduring series that is now certainly considered to be classic television, because it has withstood the test of time. It's been really thrilling to move into this direction as we finish out on the first year of this COVID-19 drama.

And I think that I have also moved emotionally and spiritually, having a lot of time to think of trying to be present in my life, to keep reminding myself to make my whole life a meditation of being single-minded and seeing everything and feeling the connections that I have with all life and the universe. I consider myself a Buddhist, or a Bu-Jew, so I try and deepen my purpose here in this life... turning lemons into lemonade is a big M.O. of mine, and so this has been a real opportunity to take what's really a terrible situation, and allow myself to extrapolate something that will help make me a better person on my journey to self-refinement.

Let's talk about The Nanny streaming on HBO Max! How did you feel when you learned that it was going to be streaming, and that not only were the people who loved it when it was on going to get the chance to watch it again, but that a whole new generation of people were going to be introduced to it?

I was really over the moon, I mean, kudos to HBO Max for recognizing that it's wildly popular! All you have to do is go on social media to see how many times The Nanny is being talked about, how many IG accounts there are that I have nothing to do with, with people who are just obsessing about that show! And how many people who grew up watching it when they were children who are now re-experiencing it through an adult point of view and sense of humor, and seeing how many double entendres there were and how clever it is, and that it's a fashion show that's still timeless. I was really thrilled, and I happen to think that, genuinely, HBO Max is a really cool place for us to be. It's an energetic streaming network that is appealing to a lot of young people, and I'm just very, very happy.

I myself have not seen these episodes without commercials since the editing room, because even when it aired in primetime there were always commercials! Once it goes into syndication they cut more time out of the show so they can put more ad dollars in, and so you never really see the show in its original cut when it goes into syndication. But this is the original cut. It's fantastic. I mean, we're all talking about it, everybody that was involved with the show back in the day is re-watching it, and it's just so pleasurable.

It's my favorite show of all time!

Thank you. Well, mine too!

It was so far-reaching, and it just appealed to everybody. Did you think that the show was going to have the long-lasting impact that it has had on so many people when you were filming it?

You know, we felt like we caught lightning in a bottle the night we shot the pilot because here are basically no big names, and an audience that had never seen the show before, and yet they got it. They were anticipating the joke, they knew the dynamic of this blue-collar meets blue blood, and the sexual tension between the hired nanny and the handsome father, and it had a kind of silhouette of traditional shows that people knew and understood from The Sound of Music to I Love Lucy. It was a very rainy night, and we didn't know the audience, and yet they were with us completely, and it was going great, and we knew that we had something. We didn't know how many decades it was going to go and keep going! Because here we are almost thirty years later, it started in 1993, and now it's streaming and trending on social media. The next stop is going to be Broadway!

Yes! let me ask you about that! How's it been going, working on that?

It's been a savior for Peter [Marc Jacobson] and I because the industry all but shut down. And so being able to write and work and perfect the musical and keep working on it - and we're still working on it! - has been a big saving grace and an absolute delight. And it's also fun for us to write those characters again! Because really, we haven't actually written the show since 1999. Even though over the years something would happen and Peter and I would look at each other and we'd both agree, "Oh, that would have been a great episode on The Nanny if we were still in production." So, now we get a chance to write it some more and it's really wonderful, it's great.

If you could quote-unquote 'dream cast' the musical, do you have anyone that you would really love to star in it? Not just for the role of Fran, but for Mr. Sheffield or Niles or C.C. they're all so iconic. Anyone that you would just love to see in it if it were possible?

You know, I'm not going to answer that because every time I do I get into trouble! So, I think that we're a ways away from dealing with that, and so because of that I'm just going to say: One of these days this is going to be a show on Broadway, and all I can tell you is that I feel very optimistic that it's going to be incredible, and I can't wait to see it myself!

Would you like to be in it?

Ideally, I would not want to be in it. It's a lot of work, I did Broadway in a musical, and... it's a lot of work! I'm enjoying being involved in it and writing it, but I don't even know if I want to do another sitcom. I have one in my head that I just keep feeling like, "Well maybe I should go pitch it and see if I sell it. If I sell it, then maybe I should do it." The last series that I did, we shot it in the winter, and I would go in and it wasn't even light out yet, and I'd go onto the soundstage, and the dressing room was on the soundstage, so we'd never leave the soundstage. And then when I'd be done with work it would be dark again! So I'd missed the whole light of day, and I thought to myself, "I'm at an age where this is precious time. I don't want to spend it in a dusty soundstage like this." I just don't feel like I can miss the light of day anymore, it doesn't give me the same thrill.

What gives me a thrill is being in nature and looking at the sky, and taking a distanced walk with my dog, and cooking, and arranging flowers, and writing, and practicing my spirituality, and staying very connected with my parents who I'm very blessed to say are still alive and well. And your priorities shift because I've already made it! I don't have to keep singing the same song, I sung it, it was a hit, and I want to deepen my life experience. Work is great, and it's good to do what you love. But there are other things too. I want to be free to travel, I'd like to live in Europe at some point for at least a year and see what that's like. Maybe become proficient in another language, I don't know!

One final fun question for you, jumping back to The Nanny streaming... were you able to steal any of your outfits from the show once filming was over?

Well, I have to say I wore these styling, wedge-y, suede boots a lot on the show, with hot pants, of course, or mini dresses, and I did take those. And I guess because they're suede they never really got too tight. And I really wore them up until even last year. Now, the toe part is a little worn out, I probably will stop wearing them. And I have a couple of coats that I kept that still fit but don't really close, but I can wear them open! [laughs] I'm totally not that size anymore, I'm way beyond wearing miniskirts and hot pants. I don't even really like dresses that are above the knee anymore. It's really funny because until you move from one age into another, you don't really realize that your tastes are going to change. But mine have, and it continues to change!

I've given away a lot of clothes recently and it feels so good. I was quiet when I was watching my girlfriends try this stuff on, and grabbing, and putting in bags... and I know that spiritually this is the right thing to do because life is about letting go. You have to let go and not get attached to the stuff. And they don't fit me anyway! But, then I was thinking, "If I need something, or I want something, I can go out and I could buy it." And I'll find something that I like for now at the weight that I'm at, in the size that I'm at, and maybe get away from the black a little bit, get more into lighter colors... just lifting my color palette in a new direction. Just allowing yourself to grow and change and evolve is part of the journey.


*This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.


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