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Living with Fran aired from April 2005 until September 2006 on The WB.
This May-December romance centered on Fran Reeves ( Fran Drescher), a divorcee in her late fourties who was living with a young hunk who was roughly the same age as her uptight son, Josh. Riley ( Ryan McPartlin) was bright, good-looking and totally devoted to Fran. She ran an interior design business and he was a building contractor. Riley had been living with Fran and her teenage daughter, Allison ( Misti Traya), for months when Josh ( Ben Feldman), recovering from a nervous breakdown and having dropped out of medical school, moved back home. Although Fran and Riley were happy, their families and friends weren't convinced the relationship made sense. Josh, in particular, was incensed, but since his only source of income was a menial job at a video store, he was in no position to get a place of his own. Fran's sarcastic, womanizing ex-husband , Ted ( Charles Shaughnessy) showed up periodically , as did her chatty cousin, Meryl ( Debi Mazar). In the series finale, at Meryl's wedding, Riley proposed to a shocked Fran but since Living with Fran had been canceled, viewers never found out her answer.
Actor Charles Shaughnessy had costarred with Ms. Drescher on The Nanny.
A Review from The New York Times
Twang, Whine: Accentuating the Familiar
By ALESSANDRA STANLEY
Published: April 8, 2005
Fran Drescher is no longer a nanny; she is a middle-aged, divorced interior decorator with a much younger lover whom her son refers to as her "goy toy."
That's the premise of "Living With Fran," a WB sitcom that is basically a city mouse version of "Reba," in which the country singer Reba McEntire plays a divorcee with grown children whose husband has married his much younger hygienist.
Together, the two actresses are the dueling banjos of the WB: Oklahoma country twang versus nasal whine from Queens. Separately and together, the two shows illustrate the limits of comedy built around a well-known show-business personality: the heroines' accents are the driving force for plot, dialogue and character development.
Reba has a country-western array of family problems, from a cheatin' husband to a pregnant teenage daughter. Fran has Jewish American Princess syndrome: her son, Josh (Ben Feldman), drops out of medical school, and she prepares home-cooked meals by telephone.
The braying laugh Ms. Drescher introduced on her hit series, "The Nanny," is as distinctive as ever; only Janice (Maggie Wheeler), Chandler's ex-girlfriend on "Friends," was as grating. And Ms. Drescher's deep, undulating whine is almost unmatched; only Harvey Fierstein has as much range. Even in reruns, "The Nanny" has a large following, including many fans overseas. In 2004, Ms. Drescher helped write a Russian adaptation.
Ms. McEntire and Ms. Drescher are both appealing personalities who breeze through their scenes, winking at the audience from behind their lines. They are a bit like Ann Sothern, a movie actress who in the 1950's was the star of two sitcoms, "Private Secretary" and "The Ann Sothern Show," and always had a twinkle suggesting that backstage she was a lot more amusing than her scripts.
Making her entrance in the pilot in tight jeans and wrap-around blouse that gives a generous view of her cleavage and her midriff, Ms. Dresher, 47, looks almost eerily the same as she did 12 years ago, and her life story has been similarly airbrushed for television - perhaps too much to sustain a sitcom.
Fran's boyfriend, Riley (Ryan McPartlin, "Passions"), is not only tall, muscular and handsome, he is also thoughtful and funny: more a woman's wishful fantasy than an entertaining sitcom character. When Josh returns home, he is shocked and outraged by what he views as his mother's midlife crisis. "If she was a man," he hollers at Riley, "you'd be a Porsche." Yet Josh, like his 15-year-old sister, Allison (Misti Traya), quickly accepts the relationship, draining comic tension.
In the second episode, Riley's parents discover that he is living with a woman almost twice his age, but they too come around in a snap. As Riley's mother, Marilu Henner ("Taxi") also looks eerily the same as she once did, which also eliminates any comic contrast between the women.
Ms. Drescher - who, along with Peter Marc Jacobson, then her husband, created "The Nanny" for CBS - has based her new series on some of her life story after "The Nanny" was canceled in 1999. She wrote a funny autobiography, "Enter Whining," in 1996, and in 2002 she published "Cancer Schmancer," a best-selling sequel that unsparingly describes her battle with uterine cancer - and with the doctors who misdiagnosed it. She also writes about other intimate events of her life, including being raped as a teenager; her divorce from Mr. Jacobson, the man she married out of high school; and her subsequent affair with a much younger man.
It may be refreshing for viewers who have tired of male-centric sitcoms like "Two and a Half Men" to see older women showcased in comedies again. It's a little too soon to declare it a trend, however. "Desperate Housewives" is not really a sitcom; it's a nighttime soap opera. The audience for "Fat Actress" has shrunk since its debut, and Pamela Anderson, who plays a librarian in the new Fox series "Stacked," seems headed for the remainder bin. (Besides, the title is unfair. CBS did not call "Listen Up," starring Jason Alexander, "Bald" or "Short" or "Fat.")
"Living With Fran" is a heartening victory lap by a feisty performer who survived cancer and also found romance in middle age, but it is not much of a sitcom yet. It could benefit by toning down the Bloomingdale's shtick and adding a little country-western adversity.
'Living With Fran'
WB, tonight at 8:30, Eastern and Pacific times; 7:30, Central time.
Bob Myer, Jamie Kennedy and Fran Drescher, executive producers; David Garrett, Jason Ward, Tim Kelleher and Frank Lombardi, co-executive producers. A Regency Television production.
WITH: Fran Drescher (Fran Reeves), Ryan McPartlin (Riley), Ben Feldman (Josh Reeves), Misti Traya (Allison Reeves) and Marilu Henner (Donna).
A Review from USA TODAY
'Fran': Tough to live with
By Robert Bianco, USA TODAY
Is it any wonder people have started living without sitcoms?
All right, it's not fair to put the burden of saving a sinking genre on the shoulders of one show or star. Nor is there anyone who really expects the next Friends or Seinfeld to come from WB, a niche network always better known for its dramas. Even so, we should be able to expect more than Living With Fran, a lifeless would-be romp starring Fran Drescher as a middle-aged divorcee shacked up with a much younger hunk.
Though Drescher has toned her act down since The Nanny, it's essentially the same act. I find her amusing, but that's not a universally held opinion, and if you don't share it, nothing in Fran will change your mind.
Even for fans, the problem is that this mixed-age romance plot traps Drescher in a one-joke show, and it's not a very good joke at that. Tonight, Fran Reeves (Drescher) introduces her 26-year-old lover, Riley (Ryan McPartlin), to her 21-year-old son, Josh (Ben Feldman), who reacts badly. In an upcoming episode, Riley introduces Fran to his parents, who react badly. (Related story: McPartlin, the new hunk in town)
We can play this game all season. There are friends, grandparents and ex-lovers on both sides all waiting to react badly when introduced. It's a show that practically writes itself, and it often plays tonight as if it did.
Just to up the turn-off ante, Fran is yet another entry in an unappetizing subgenre WB suddenly seems intent on cornering: the smarmy family comedy. You were spared exposure to Commando Nanny, announced for this time slot but never aired, which set up sexual tension between a male nanny and the teenage girl he was hired to mind. Instead you get Fran, which sets up an oddly Freudian competition between mom's boy-toy and her overly attached son.
The upshot is a show that, when not merely humorless, is shudder-inducing. "I'm at my sexual peak," Fran screeches at Josh, to which Riley responds "I'll say!" Yes, the reaction you're looking for is "eeuuwww."
Because this is a sitcom, Riley and Josh bond by the end of tonight's episode, despite Riley's dumb-as-a-brick attempts to treat the only barely younger Josh as his son. And because it's a terrible sitcom, their bonding is immediately forgotten, either because the show brought in all new writers, or because the old writers think it's funny when Josh snipes at Riley. It isn't but then neither is anything else in Living With Fran.
Which is why we probably won't be living with Fran for long.
An Article from Entertainment Weekly
Published on April 4, 2005
The Ex Nanny Diaries
Fran Drescher returns to network TV -- The former star of ''The Nanny'' joins The WB as a suburban sugar mama in her new show ''Living with Fran''
By Nicholas Fonseca
It will surprise no one who has seen one of Lifetime's many airings of The Nanny to learn that Fran Drescher's dressing room has leopard-print carpeting. Or that the walls (and ceiling) are pink. Or that a giant Warhol print Marilyn, of course hangs across the room from where Drescher is sitting, as she scoops up her chocolate Pomeranian, Esther, and settles in for an interview. And then Esther starts to yap.
''What do you waaaaant?! Why are you baaarking?! Oh, goodness graaaacious!'' And there it is: the voice. The signature squawk that continues to thrall This Is Spiral Tap fans. The nasal whine that carried her through six seasons of The Nanny. The distinct rasp that was voted America's worst voice in a 2000 public-opinion poll. Drescher's unmistakable sound returns from rerun infamy on Living With Fran(debuting April 8 at 8:30 p.m.), a WB sitcom about the May-December romance between divorcee Fran Reeves and twentysomething construction contractor Riley (Passions' Ryan McPartlin). Cracks Drescher of her alter ego: ''She's never really met another man besides her ex-husband. . .and I mean that in the biblical sense!''
Post-Nanny life wasn't such a gas for Drescher, who says the series' 1999 wrap left her feeling ''like a queen without a queendom.'' Soon after, her empire started to crumble: Her strained marriage to high school sweetheart Peter Marc Jacobson finally collapsed. Her beloved 19-year-old dog, Chester, passed away. And after spending two and a half years consulting eight doctors for chronic cramping, she heard three dreaded words: ''You have cancer.''
''Had we not ended the show when we did, we probably would have had to shut down,'' says the 47-year-old actress, who was diagnosed with uterine cancer in June 2000. With the aid of her real-life (now ex-) boyfriend 16 years her junior Drescher conquered the disease, and emerged with the frank 2002 memoir Cancer Schmancer and had the backstory for her latest TV endeavor.
''When Peter and I broke up, I realized I had never really dated,'' says Drescher, who was shopping the project as Robbing the Cradle when she learned that comedian Jamie Kennedy was prepping a series with the same premise and name. (The two collaborated, and he's now an exec producer on Fran.) ''I had never been with another man. Those are the sorts of issues we're exploring.''
First, there were other issues to deal with: The series didn't land a spot on The WB's '04-'05 schedule last May, and Drescher was frustrated by early tapings. She kept mum until new WB president David Janollari arrived in June and eventually replaced two show runners. ''I had a muzzle on. Nobody wanted my opinion. Heads rolled, and I was promoted [to exec producer],'' she says. Janollari concurs: ''[The old show runners] weren't mining the comic premise a woman having a second chance at life with a younger man. The show needed a clearer voice.''
Fran seems less comeback and more throwback vehicle for Drescher: Nanny souvenirs are strewn throughout the show, from the casting (old on-screen hubby Charles Shaughnessy appears as her ex-husband in Fran) to the dialogue (''[Rib roast] was my mother's specialty. . .well, that and destroying my self-esteem!''). But the Queens native believes there's an appetite for her comedy: ''I've never given up confidence in the power of the family sitcom. People have stressful lives, and if you create a world that the viewer enjoys being in for 22 minutes a week, they will come.''
If she fails, Drescher has loftier goals, like founding a think tank dedicated to women's health issues. ''Cancer gave me a purpose that I didn't really have before,'' says Drescher. ''I always thought that a big part of me belonged in [politics], because I feel like I am kind of the voice of the people.'' And when Drescher talks, it's impossible not to listen.
30 Second Bio on Fran Drescher
After being named first runner-up in the Miss New York Teenager pageant at 15, Drescher landed an agent by lying and saying she'd won.
FIRST MOVIE LINE
To John Travolta's Tony Manero in Saturday Night Fever: ''Are you as good in bed as you are on that dance floor?''
''I'm so easily manipulated by them. [Recently one] told me that I should only do what comes easily in these coming years. And here I am. Now I'm quoting her.''
CURRENTLY DATING. . .?
''Why, are you single? Hahahahaha!''
A Review from The Seattle Post
Old double standards snag Drescher's 'Living With Fran'
By MELANIE McFARLAND
SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER TELEVISION CRITIC
A word of warning to anyone fond of evening constitutionals: As you're walking through your neighborhood around 8:30 tonight, you may hear something that sounds like a goose being strangled.
Don't be alarmed. It's just the premiere of "Living With Fran" on KTWB/22.
All right, we've gotten the crack about Fran Drescher's voice out of the way. But trust me when I tell you, if you think this sitcom's writers can do much better, you are sadly mistaken.
It may not matter. Drescher's an actress with a substantial fan base, and as Fran Reeves, a divorcee of a certain age who lands a much younger stud named Riley ("Passions" star Ryan McPartlin), she's quite charming. Her teenage daughter, Allison (Misti Traya), is fine with the arrangement, but her neurotic son, Josh (Ben Feldman), a medical school dropout, is losing it.
If "Living With Fran" had a mote of intelligence in it, it could at best be credited for highlighting our double standards when it comes to May/December romances. Especially right now. Demi Moore pairs off with Ashton Kutcher, and people wonder what he's thinking, and whether her ovaries are in working order. Kevin Costner trots around with younger arm candy, and it's the natural result of finely aged virility.
Instead of looking at Riley and Fran's situation on that level, the episodes snag on the age difference tack -- first through Josh, then Fran's ex-husband, and Riley's parents (in another episode airing at 9:30 tonight). The writers are obviously hoping we won't notice that Drescher's figure and face would put most women around Riley's age to shame. "Living With Fran" eventually becomes too much of a chore. Move out, and move on.
Tuning in to GoreTV
Enough with The WB, Fox, MTV, G4, Cartoon Network, Comedy Central, Spike, The N and every other cable channel that, according to Al Gore, has left the nation's youth yearning. My fellow young Americans, Gore knows exactly what kind of television you need. TV that educates. TV that gives you up-to-the-minute information about who's searching what on Google. Bite-size TV segments that can run as short as a couple of seconds to as long as 5 minutes.
Al Gore, providing must-see-but-don't-blink-or-you'll-miss-it TV? Good Lord, how? By joining cable with the Internet. Here we go again.
Current's the official name of the enterprise some already are calling GoreTV, and its goal, according to the one-time presidential candidate and his co-founder, entrepreneur Joel Hyatt, is to reshape the way twentysomethings think about how television and Web surfing filters their world.
"We are about empowering this generation of young people in their 20s, the 18-to-34 population," Gore reportedly said when he announced the network at a San Francisco cable conference this week, "to engage in a dialogue of democracy and to tell their stories about what's going on in their lives in the dominant media of our time."
Let us pause for a moment, fellow twenty- and thirtysomethings, so that you can go smash the forces that have disconnected you from the world at large -- your PSPs, your iPods, cell phones and Blackberrys -- and rejoice. Rejoice! For one of the most well-meaning (if boring) men in the world is going to give you what you probably don't know you want: information, news and entertainment reduced to even less substantial, faster-moving morsels!
And ... back to the show.
The idea behind Current is to treat the audience as collaborators, a word that can have both positive and negative connotations. Part of the programming plan -- which, understand, is still gestating -- is to air short video snippets called "pods," some produced by the channel and submitted by viewers. The lineup's concept sounds a lot like an MP3 player on shuffle mode: short news features, music videos (natch), career tips, short films, parenting advice, whatever seems "Current" at the moment.
More interesting than the official unveiling of Current and its projected launch date, Aug. 1, is the channel's Internet-based partnership with Google. The search engine will provide regular updates and include other features based on search data.
From launch, Current will be able to reach about 20 million households.
(Not coincidentally, MTV announced the launch of a new broadband area on its site, mtv.com, called MTV Overdrive.)
Current deserves a pat on the back for granting an outlet for public participation and creativity in a medium that barely encourages either. Not only is it connecting to people through the Internet, it has harnessed the power of Meetups. Seattle already has one scheduled for Wednesday, April 20 at 7 p.m. (Feel free to investigate at http://current.meetup.com.)
And let's just dispense with this before anyone dredges it up: Al Gore did not invent the Internet. Nor did he ever say he did.
But while that aged untruth took on a life of its own, we have serious doubts as to whether Current can. Joining the Web and your viewer experience is an "original" idea many companies have set sail with before, only to sink not long after realizing that most people still view television and Web surfing as two very separate activities. Ask the guys at Microsoft.
The best cable channels don't stand out from the hundreds of others by giving viewers what they need. It's about what they want.
And Current would do well to learn that by looking at fellow independent cable channel Oxygen, which launched with the goal of teaching women how they could improve their lives, marrying its TV content to its Web site.
But as Oxygen soon learned, TV is still passive entertainment. So they abandoned their dreams of turning their viewers into Web-savvy goddesses and strengthened their movie and entertainment slates.
A lot of GoreTV's ideas are in their nascent stages, and much can change between now and August. But don't be surprised if Current switches streams -- or switches off -- soon after its launch.
To watch some clips from Living with Fran go to http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=living+with+fran+episodes&aq=f
To watch the opening credits go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gqo1A4099QI
� Date: Sat April 9, 2005 � Filesize: 30.2kb � Dimensions: 233 x 350 �
Keywords: Fran Drescher Ryan McPartlin