Fran Drescher dishes on her upcoming 'The Nanny' musical and the show's lasting impact

When Fran Drescher visits New York City, she embraces its fine foods. On the day that she spoke with us via Zoom from her NYC apartment, her cousin brought over a Zucker’s bagel topped with ricotta cheese and salt. 

"When somebody generously brings something with the intention of trying to please me, I'm going to accept it graciously," she said off-camera to her cousin.

Drescher is no stranger to a good bagel—there were plenty eaten on The Nanny, her hit 1990s comedy sitcom that ran for six seasons on CBS. The show may have been off the air for more than two decades, but it is now more popular than ever. New audiences are discovering the hilarious show about Fran Fine, a Jewish nanny pining over Mr. Sheffield, her boss and widowed British Broadway producer while raising his three children at his Upper East Side townhome from streaming the series on HBO Max.

Drescher, too, has been in the spotlight after securing the SAG-AFTRA presidency and raising awareness for her non-profit organization, Cancer Schmancer Movement. “I'm not married. I don't have children. But I do feel a responsibility towards people and leveraging my celebrity and my abilities for the greater good,” she said. With so many responsibilities at 64, she tries to take every other day to rest. On those “off-days,” she still does work virtually, doesn't have to go anywhere nor does she have to be in hair and makeup. “I have to honor my body as I teach other people to do and respect the age that I'm at,” 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‘s Rachel Bloom is writing the music and Adam Schlesinger, a founding member of the music group Fountains of Wayne, was also working with Bloom. (Sadly, he passed away due to 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. 

In the meantime, she recently teamed up with Australian author Rebecca Kelly to release a picture book called N is for The Nanny. It’s a special limited release of 10,000 copies where 100% of proceeds are donated to the Cancer Schmancer Movement. Each page features a letter that’s thematic to 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 wearing a bathrobe in countless episodes as she entered the dining room to eat breakfast with the Sheffield family and have a bagel or two from time to time. 

Time Out New York spoke to Drescher about her favorite parts of the book, some clues as to what to expect when the musical is staged and how the iconic series was always filled with countless celebrity guest stars.  

What I think is remarkable is that 100% of the proceeds of N is for Nanny go towards your nonprofit.

It's our supporters, the Kellys from Australia, who proposed this. It was indeed extremely generous that they don't even really want to be reimbursed for the cost of the book. They're making the book their donation for as many as can be sold. We’re so grateful. I don't think we've ever been blessed with such a generous proposal. 

Would you consider it a children’s book? 

It’s as the series was: good for the whole family. It was perfect because The Nanny was a nanny. This series is so wildly popular, but there hasn't really been new merchandising in decades. So to do a children's book seems very spot on and I think it really captures the warmth and the joy that the series has brought to so many.

Which is your favorite letter in the book?  

“P is for Producer”–Peters’s page, but I've spent some time with Renee Taylor (Sylvia Fine) here in New York and I love how much she loves her page “S is for Sylvia.” 

You’ve talked a lot about the show’s fashion but I am going to list some 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 get so many celebrities on the show?

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