Fran Drescher on How ‘The Nanny’ Reboot Could Work Today
It’s been almost 30 years since The Nanny named Fran Fine (Fran Drescher) from Flushing, Queens showed up at Maxwell Sheffield’s (Charles Shaughnessy) door. And then proceeded to turn the widow and his three kids’ world on its fanny.
The beloved CBS sitcom that ran for six seasons starting in 1993 saw the employer-employee dynamic evolve from will-they-won’t-they to marital bliss and the birth of twins. Viewers also tuned in to follow the love-hate and love-love relationship between butler Niles (Daniel Davis) and Mr. Sheffield’s business associate C.C. (Lauren Lane).
These days, the sitcom’s classic episodes have a new home on COZI TV. With the network celebrating its 10-year anniversary and the series gearing up to mark its own milestone, we caught up with Drescher. And if you’re hoping to for more Nanny, the Emmy and Golden Globe-nominated actress (and SAG-AFTRA president!) gives us something to nosh on.
Do you feel viewers of The Nanny look at the show differently today?
Fran Drescher: I do think a lot of the kids that were watching in the 1990s. Those millennials that now are grownups are appreciating the writing quality and a lot of the jokes that went over their head when they were younger. We always wrote to adults, as well as kids with double entendre. So they are getting it in a whole new way, appreciating how fabulous the fashion was, designed by Brenda Cooper. Just the eye candy of the whole piece and the sexual tension between the nanny, Fran Fine, and her boss Mr. Sheffield. It’s an amazing gift that keeps on giving that I continue to feel extremely grateful for.
The show took us right into the 2000s and seems to have enjoyed this renewed staying power today.
It came at a time when primetime and syndication with social media started to take hold. For the first time ever, fans could talk to each other and discuss the details about episodes and characters and clothing, when Mr. Sheffield and Fran Fine kiss, everything. It created a light on social media that was a first for television series. That helped support its presence around the world. It’s been syndicated for a very long time. Currently, it’s on COZI TV, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary. We started with them in 2018 and did well on their network. They are wonderful. My parents still watch my show on their channel because they love that they do all these marathons. So, my mom could watch episode after episode after she gets into bed each night. There is always a fun way they group them together for the audience that watches COZI.
What’s the experience like revisiting The Nanny episodes?
Some episodes to me I’m not as familiar with some, which is funny. I watch it almost with fresh eyes. I lay in bed and laugh out loud. I just enjoy it so much. I’m also just amazed by the rotation of big stars that we had on all the episodes, which is so phenomenal. Our first big star I think was Dan Aykroyd, who is a personal friend and was on during our very first season and early on in the episodes. From there, it went through this string of stars that are absolutely incredible from Elton John to Bette Midler, to Elizabeth Taylor and Rosie O’Donnell. It’s endless. I find that incredible and very much like I Love Lucy when they invited the stars to mostly play themselves. It’s just so fun. I like when we used to show outtakes in the credits. The network was worried the fans wouldn’t like when we broke the fourth wall, but I always produce things for my taste hoping other people would like it too. I love bloopers, and I love outtakes. We fought them on that. So to this day when you watch it on COZI and stay til the end and you see those outtakes, it’s so fun. I’m actually about to go to Florida to visit Renée Taylor who is about to turn 90.
Renée Taylor was such a scene stealer as Silvia. It’s nice to know you get together after all these years. What can you tell us in terms of seeing more from The Nanny? Have you further conceptualized how the reboot or revival might work today?
It’s funny because in November we’ll be celebrating our 30th anniversary. It will be 30 years since The Nanny started as crazy as that sounds. So we are talking to the president of Sony, our parent company, about what we can do that is special in celebration. That’s not a reboot, but you never know. It could be a backdoor pilot. There are a lot of different ways The Nanny could go whether it’s the same concept with a whole new cast set in the 2020s. Whether it’s the original cast that includes the twins and of course all the cast. Or maybe a spinoff with one of the characters. I think that one of the strongest ways it goes would be with myself and Charles Shaughnessy as Fran and Mr. Sheffield. Then it would be about figuring out who is Fran in the 2020s. What is she about?
It’s a different world from the one Fran existed in all those yeast ago.
She was hellbent on getting married. Being married as lovely an institution as it is for many people, I think you have to carve out your own independent path and have the ability to express yourself separately and apart from your husband and your children. I think that is what we would explore. Who is Fran today? What is she doing to satisfy her needs and creativity? Her politics, fashion sense, love for her children and parents, and husband. That would be explored in a new season. We’ll see. We’re going to talk to Sony and see what happens.
Until then we can watch The Nanny on COZI. You’ve built a great relationship with them, helping spread awareness for your nonprofit work including Cancer Schmancer.
They are so supportive. We have our big Master Class Health Summit on January 21. And if you can’t be in Southern California, you can watch the livestream. I really urge everyone to do that. It’s the beginning of 2023 and the information we are going to present with our speakers and doctors and authors is going to be extremely illuminating, entertaining, and informative. We are always told people’s lives were changed by these experiences.
It has also been 20 years since the release of your book “Cancer Schmancer,” chronicling your journey as a cancer survivor. How much of an impact do you think you’ve made?
I think we were very much ahead of the curve when we started because I obsess about causation. Why do we get sick? Let’s not just look at the end symptom and try to find a cure for it or find something that will suppress the symptoms but actually identify why we get sick in the first place, eliminate it and curve the amount of sickness we get. Interferences we allow in our homes that are toxic and carcinogenic and air pollutions that are constantly eroding our immune system and making us susceptible to a whole host of illnesses that plague us these days. That’s where we began. I think we have really helped push the needle in that direction. We’ve seen over the years, through Cancer Schmancer a nonprofit, how people are beginning to see the connection between how you live with how you feel.
The Nanny, Weeknights, 11/10c, COZI TV
For more information on Fran Drescher’s Master Class Health Summit presented by The Annenberg Foundation, visit here.