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The Nanny aired from November 1993 until June 1999 on CBS.

Fran ( Fran Drescher) was a caracature of a middle-class Jewish girl-nasal voice, loud clothes-who purely by accident stumbled into a job working as a nanny for the children of a successful British theatrical producer, Maxwell Sheffield ( Charles Shaughnessy). Showing up at the door of the Sheffield town house in Manhattan selling cosmetics, she was mistaken for an applicant for the vacant nanny position. After talking her way into the job for which she had no experience , Fran moved into the Sheffield mansion, quite a change from the moddest Queens apartment in which she had been living with her mother. The Sheffield household included Maxwell's three children-Maggie ( Nicholle Tom), a shy teenager; Breighton ( Benjamin Salisbury), a budding promoter; and cute-as-a-button Grace ( Madeline Zima)-and Niles ( Daniel Davis), the sarcastic but compassionate butler. Also seen regularly were Maxwell's patronizing business partner C.C.( Lauren Lane), who had romantic designs on her widowed boss and felt threatened by the sexy , if uncultered Fran; Sylvia and Yetta ( Renee Taylor, Ann Morgan Guilbert), Fran's mother and grandmother who couldn't believe how lucky she had been to fall into her current job; and Val ( Rachel Chagall), Fran's best friend. She may not have been formally trained, but Fran's common sense and middle-class values stood her in good stead when solving the children's problems and offering sound advice. As Fran became more a part of the Sheffield family, C.C. got progressively more hostile, while Niles who despised C.C. loved it all.

In the spring of 1996 Maxwell was starting to realize he had strong feelings for Fran and at season's end, in Paris, they actually got romantic and he proposed marriage to her-but later took it back. Fran agonized over her on-again off -again romance with Maxwell and early in 1997, she started seeing a therapist Dr. Miller ( Spaulding Gray), to help her cope with her marriage obsession. That spring Maxwell's play, The Widower, won the Tony Award for best play.

In the 1997-1998 season finale, with lots of flashbacks covering the ups and downs of their relationship over the years, Fran and Maxwell finally got married in a traditional Jewish ceremony. At episode's end they were on a honeymoon cruise , but all did not go well. Fran fell over the railing. Maxwell dived in to save her and as a result, their honeymoon was spent on an uninhabited island. When they got back to New York, they worked at adjusting to married life and Fran adopted Maxwell's children. In November , Fran discovered she was pregnant. In the series' swan song aired as a special on May 19, 1999, Fran gave birth to twins; Niles married C.C. with whom he had been having a passionate affair for several weeks and they learned that C.C. was pregnant; and amid a series of sentimental flashbacks , Fran closed up the New York house in preparation for the family's move to California.

During it's six year run, The Nanny was nominated for 11 emmys winning only one in 1995 for best costume designs. Fran Drescher was nominated twice for best actress in 1996 and 1997. Renee Taylor also got a nomination as best supporting actress in 1996. A Fran Drescher doll was released during the show's run, featuring some of the outfits that were one of the show's trademarks.

Star Fran Drescher and her husband Peter Marc Jacobson, who was one of the executive producers of The Nanny, were the creators of the series.

A Review from Variety

The Nanny
(Wed. (3), 8:30-9 p.m., CBS)

Taped in Los Angeles by Sternin/Fraser Ink. Inc., in association with TriStar Television. Executive producers-writers, Robert Sternin, Prudence Fraser, Peter Marc Jacobson; producers, Fran Drescher, Kathy Landsberg; director, Lee Shallat; creators, Sternin, Fraser, Jacobson, Drescher.

Cast: Fran Drescher, Charles Shaughnessy, Lauren Lane, Daniel Davis, Nicholle Tom, Benjamin Salisbury, Madeline Zima, Rachel Chagall, Jonathan Penner, Dee Dee Rescher, Renee Taylor.

Based on evidence in "The Nanny," Fran Drescher has many talents, but restraint isn't one of them. The new sitcom has some amusing moments and certainly contains many elements of past successful sitcoms, but the producers will have to work hard toning down this relentless new entry if they hope for long-lasting success.
Premiere episode kicks off as Fran (Drescher) is fired from a bridal boutique and tries to sell cosmetics door-to-door.

In one of those strained pieces of logic that only occur in TV pilots, a stuffy, widowed millionaire (Charles Shaughnessy) decides he has no choice but to hire the totally unqualified woman as the caretaker of his three children.

You can almost hear the series pitch: "It's 'The Sound of Music' with a Jewish American Princess as Maria," and the show will presumably mine its laughs from this gefilte-fish-out-of-water routine.

Certainly the writers shamelessly borrow every element they can from "The Sound of Music."

Arriving for breakfast in her bathrobe, Fran ignores the dictum that it is proper to dress for meals. Apparently it's supposed to be charming when she ignores stuffiness, but this woman ignores basic manners. Naturally, this free spirit punctures the pretensions of her boss's snooty friends, and, since the script says so, she wins over everyone around except the icy, predatory woman (i.e., the Eleanor Parker role, played well enough by Lauren Lane) who has set her sights on the rich widower.

As premises go, this one is acceptable enough, and there are some very funny lines; plus, Drescher is a polished performer.

But you don't have to be Jewish to be offended by the character created by the writers, producers and Drescher (who is also co-creator, writer and producer). As they punched up the worst stereotypes -- Fran is loud, pushy, bargain-hungry and man-hungry -- did anyone think Jewish viewers, much less Midwestern ones, would be charmed? (Does the Jewish Defense League ever look into sitcoms?)

Character has some moments and would work well in small doses, but as a lead, Fran has to be toned down and warmed up.

As the new boss, Shaughnessy looks good, maintains his dignity, and thankfully doesn't have to sing "Edelweiss."

An Article from USA TODAY
Published on November 3, 1993

Fran Drescher: 'Nanny' in full control

By Jefferson Graham

Fran Drescher is real clear about who she is.

" I'm not Meryl Streep," she says. " I'm a pretty girl with a funny voice. It's an odd cobination , but that's the package."

After years of playing the funny neighbor or friend in movies and TV shows, Drescher, 36, is finally getting the opportunity to step out on her own.

She stars in The Nanny, a new CBS sitcom, which she co-created and produces with husband Peter Marc Jacobson. The show premieres Wednesday at 8:30 p.m. ET/PT.

Think of Mary Poppins with a funny Jew from Queens instead of Julie Andrews, and you get the idea. Drescher plays a former hairdresser who goes to work for an uptight New York theatrical producer. The show was CBS' highest testing pilot in three years.

Last seen on CBS' short-lived Princesses two years ago, Drescher returned to CBS' courtesy of a plane flight to France. She happened to be sitting next to CBS's Entertainment President Jeff Sagansky on a flight, and he tried to talk her into acting in a new pilot. She explained that no pilot he could give her would do her justice.

" I need something that's created for me," she told him. " I'm offbeat and unique and I need somebody who really knows me and what comedy works for me. The only person who can do that is my husband."

By the end of the trip, Sagansky agreed to meet with Drescher and Jacobson ( who had worked on several pilots) when they returned to Los Angeles.

The actress dinn't have a specific idea for a show until she went to London to visit her Princesses co-star Twiggy.

" I felt so funny in their environment," she says. " Being around all those English people, I felt so American, so crude, blue collar and Jewish."

After Princesses, she was determined that she and her husband be in control. " I felt that if we didn't get on the inside in a big way, it just wasn't worth doing," she says. " You get good money, but you sacrifice your voice and your intelligence. You become a pawn that just gets moved around and plopped around on stage, where they say,' Just do your lines.'"

Drescher and former actor Jacobson left New York in 1977 when she was cast in a small role in the movie American Hot Wax. She also appeared in the films Saturday Night Fever, This is Spinal Tap, Dr. Detroit, Cadillac Man and a handful of TV pilots.

She and Jacobson have spent hours analyzing hits and misses of the past, to make sure they get The Nanny right.

Biggest mistake they're trying to avoid: " Making the supporting characters broad and cartoony and forcing the central character to be straighter," she says. " My character must remain a Lucy. Rhoda failed because she wasn't surrounded by people that allowed her to be funny. The comedy will come from everyone on our show, but I can never become the parental, straight voice of reason that happens so often in sitcoms."

Doing The Nanny isn't a dream come true for the couple. Instead she calls it the " beginning of our dream being realized. We want to do spin-offs from The Nanny; we want to produce other shows as well. This is just the beginning of our involvement in the industry as writers and producers. We want to have our own Desilu studio one day.

A Review from USA TODAY


'Nanny': Drescher in a dead-end job

That squak! That talk! That walk! A spoonful of Fran Drescher as the foxiest nanny since Mary Poppins, makes even the hokiest gags go down in the most delightful way.

Fran's fine as Fran Fine, bourgeois royalty from Flushing, Queens, who has a snappy line for every situation and a sly smirk and nasal honk to go with it. But The Nanny is no jolly holiday for this wary Mary.

The latest loser sitcom from CBS is a retro vehicle as broad and dated as vaudeville, that thrusts its slinky star into the most trite and preposterous of anachronistic settings: the Manhattan mansion of a handsome British widower /Broadway producer ( Charles Shaughnessy) seeking a nanny for his three kids, a mousy teen about to blossom, a bratty boy prone to Harold and Maude suicide pranks, and a little girl bursting with therapy jokes.

There's also a wisecracking butler ( Daniel Davis) who takes to Fran, and the producer's uptight " lady friend" ( Lauren Lane) who most surely doesn't. The halls are alive with the sound of music, a familiar tune of canned laughter.

Well at least no one has made clothes out of the curtains yet. Fran prefers to shop. That's her fun side.

Less fun is Fran's predictable tendency to rely on vulgar wisdom and middle-class values to carry the day, coming as she does from the land of plastic on the furniture. And Renee Taylor, as her shrill mom , offers Oveltine to the producer when he asks Fran back after impulsively firing her.

Drescher is disarmingly gorgeous in a brassy way, but even her delivery is off at times, as everyone is encouraged to pause awkwardly for laughs that should be bigger.

Put simply, Fran Drescher is to die for, The Nanny is death.

An Article from The New York Times

TELEVISION; Mary Poppins She's Not

Published: December 18, 1994

NOO YAWK IS FUN CITY. IT'S A feisty town filled with nutty adventures: phone calls from Barbra Streisand; subway rides spent jawing with picturesque (but ultimately unthreatening) panhandlers; knockdown, drag-out clearance sales at Loehmann's. The natives sometimes talk tough, but they don't really mean it, because underneath their crusty exteriors lie hearts as big as Lefrak City.

In fact, so all-powerful are the forces of love, family and benign mischievousness -- and so unimportant are factors like income and upbringing -- that a Jewish working girl from Flushing with tight skirts, huge hair and a 100-octane accent can easily get a job as a surrogate parent for a family of up-tight Manhattan-dwelling bluebloods.

In short, Gotham Lite. And if this screwball revisionism pleases you, then you seem to be in emotional tune with a lot of other Americans who are watching "The Nanny." In its second season, this Monday night CBS comedy has become a hit, largely by tapping into a rich vein of sentimental satire and by sticking to the sitcom basics.

The other vital ingredient in the show's success is a large measure of real New York chutzpah applied safely offstage by a real New Yorker: Fran Drescher, the show's 37-year-old creator and star, who has relentlessly promoted "The Nanny" ever since she spotted the CBS programming chief on a jetliner and spent several hours selling the captive executive on the idea of Fran Drescher as a sitcom star.

"Is it a fantasy? Oh, definitely," says Ms. Drescher. Sitting in her office in a bungalow next to the show's Culver City sound stage, she is referring to the outlandish premise of "The Nanny." But she might also be describing her show's improbable success story.

"Like 'Alice in Wonderland,' you know?" says Ms. Drescher, dressed much more plainly than her character, in black slacks and a man's white shirt. "Except that this time, the person taking this wonderful trip is just a little bit different."

Ms. Drescher laughs her trademark laugh: the sound of a Buick with an empty gas tank cold-cranking on a winter morning.

Ms. Drescher, who is indeed from Forest Hills, Queens, has harnessed only the upbeat parts of her urban upbringing to the television dream machine. After a slow start in 1993, "The Nanny" is now the hottest comedy in the CBS lineup. It has won its 8 P.M. time slot every week this season; last month, with about 13 million households watching, it hit its highest point, No. 15, in the weekly Nielsen ratings.

Not since "The Goldbergs," or perhaps "Rhoda," has a successful comedy been anchored by such an explicitly Jewish character; most recently, "Brooklyn Bridge" was a critical success but a ratings failure.

That is not to say "The Nanny" is a blockbuster or a critical darling like ABC's "Roseanne" or NBC's "Seinfeld." The show is disliked by some who find Ms. Drescher's accent grating or the characterizations too broad. But "The Nanny" is certainly outperforming more "sophisticated" CBS sitcoms like "Love and War" and "Hearts Afire." There is even talk of spinoffs; a Nanny doll; eventually, a Desilu-like mini-studio run by Ms. Drescher and her husband, Peter Marc Jacobson, with whom she created the series.

"What this is is a retro, 70's-style sitcom," explains Robert Sternin, a television-comedy veteran who, along with his wife and writing partner, Prudence Fraser, produces "The Nanny."

In his own bungalow office, he struggles to define the underlying attraction of the show's premise: "Think of 'Mary Poppins.' But instead of Julie Andrews, Fran Drescher comes to the door. Think what would happen if you turned 'My Fair Lady' into a TV series. By its second season, it would look a lot like us."

In the show's first episode, the plucky Fran Fine (Ms. Drescher) is at loose ends because her Queens boyfriend-boss has dumped her. Selling cosmetics door to door, she arrives at the swank Manhattan town house of a widowed Broadway producer, Maxwell Sheffield.

Sheffield, played by Charles Shaughnessy, is a handsome Englishman. This, explains Mr. Sternin, is designed to make the freewheeling Fran a better surrogate for the audience. "Because the family is British, to the audience Fran becomes an 'American,' " he says. "If the family was WASP, she'd be 'Jewish.' "

Sheffield is trying to hire a live-in nanny for his three children, ages 15, 12 and 8. Rounding out the household are an acerbic butler named Niles (Daniel Davis) and Sheffield's secret admirer, his snooty female business associate C. C. (Lauren Lane).

Sizing up the situation, Fran scribbles a resume in lipstick ("You have a reference from the Queen Mother?" "No! That's my mother, from Queens!") and gets the job on an emergency basis. The next morning, to the astonishment of all, she comes to the breakfast table in bathrobe and slippers.

"The old nanny ate in the kitchen," she is told.

"How antisocial!" she replies.

In no time, Nanny Fine takes over the household, operating under the P. G. Wodehousian theory that the rich are emotionally and intellectually challenged people who must be protected by their servants from harming themselves.

If Fran Fine isn't the role of a lifetime for Ms. Drescher, it is certainly the culmination of two decades of hard work in the acting trade. After she graduated from Hillcrest High School in Queens, where she met Mr. Jacobson, the two of them moved to Los Angeles and were married. While he worked as a writer and actor, she carved out a niche playing a variation of the stock New-York-bred sidekick: a woman with a model's face and figure but a voice so nasal that one critic commented, "I'll bet when she was a kid, she moved her nostrils when she read."

In 1991 she starred, with Julie Hagerty and Twiggy Lawson, in a CBS sitcom called "Princesses." Ms. Drescher played a man-hunting cosmetics saleswoman, somewhat harder-edged than her "Nanny" character; the series lasted only two months.

"I was depressed," Ms. Drescher recalled, "but unlike everybody else, who thought we still had a chance when they said they were putting us on hiatus, I knew it was all over."

IN THE SUMMER OF 1992 SHE visited Ms. Lawson in England. Taking the same flight to London, by a now-momentous coincidence, was Jeff Sagansky, then president of CBS Entertainment. She recognized him.

"I said 'Thank you, God,' and ran into the bathroom and put on my makeup," Ms. Drescher recalled. "I was so nervous, but I didn't want to leave the plane and think: 'I should have said something.' So I sat next to him and we talked for nine and a half hours."

It was actually three hours, said Mr. Sagansky, speaking on the phone from his New York office, "but even that's like 24 hours with somebody else." Mr. Sagansky is now executive vice president of Sony Corporation of America, which is the parent company of Columbia Tri-Star, the studio that produces "The Nanny."

Mr. Sagansky continued: "What she said to me was: 'You know, people don't understand. Because of the voice, they think I'm the seasoning in the show. That's wrong. I'm a main course. One day somebody is going to see that. One network is going to get lucky.'

"Then she told me that she and her husband were students of the form. That they sat home and watched sitcoms, and they know what works and what doesn't. I've heard that from a lot of people, but damned if it wasn't true."

As all concerned now recall, Mr. Sagansky agreed to hear a pitch from Ms. Drescher for a show starring herself. Recalling how comically out of place she felt at Ms. Lawson's London town house, she worked with her husband to refine and elaborate on that fish-out-of-water situation until it became, in rough form, "The Nanny."

At first, Ms. Drescher said, the writers who tried to flesh out the character didn't quite get the idea. "Most of the scripts that came to us," she said, "were written with a kind of meanspirited, hard edge to them," says Ms. Drescher. Ms. Fraser and Mr. Sternin's work, she adds, balanced edginess with heart.

Making its debut in a Wednesday night time slot, often being broadcast opposite "Home Improvement," "The Nanny" initially languished. But network research showed that Ms. Drescher's character appealed to most viewers, so CBS broadcast reruns twice a week, on Mondays and Wednesdays, this past summer. Ms. Drescher also embarked on an exhausting promotion campaign, giving dozens of interviews and flying around the country to visit CBS's affiliated stations and local talk shows.

She had also lobbied strongly for a new time slot. At the start of this season, the show was moved to Monday night, historically a strong one for CBS.

Not quite everyone has been won over. In an article in the Los Angeles Times entertainment section, a woman who was Jewish, decrying stereotypes in the entertainment media, wrote that Fran Fine was a demeaning depiction of Jewish womanhood.

Ms. Drescher immediately responded with her own article, which The Times printed.

"I said that the character I portray and all the characters I talk about are all the rich and wonderful people I grew up with," she recalled. "And I suggested that if she was offended by someone like Fran Fine, simply because her mother has plastic slipcovers and speaks with a strong New York accent, suggests that she is a victim of post-World-War-II culture, which says that the only good Jew is an assimilated Jew. That shut her up.

"And then I wrote at the bottom 'P.S., if you have a Nielsen box, please disregard the above.' "

To watch clips from the Nanny go to

For the The Really Unofficial Nanny
Home Page

For Tim's TV Showcase go to

For some Nanny-related interview videos at the Archive of American Television go to
Date: Sat April 1, 2017 � Filesize: 63.6kb, 173.0kbDimensions: 1149 x 1000 �
Keywords: Nicholle Tom, Fran Drescher & Charles Shaughnessy (Links Updated 8/1/18


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