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The Nanny is an American television sitcom originally broadcast 1993–1999, starring Fran Drescher as Fran Fine, a Jewish Queens native who becomes the nanny of three children from the New York/British high society.

Created and executive produced by Drescher and her then-husband Peter Marc Jacobson, The Nanny took much of its inspiration from Drescher's personal life growing up in Queens, involving names and characteristics based on her relatives and friends. The show earned a Rose d'Or and one Emmy Award, out of a total of thirteen nominations, and Drescher was twice nominated for a Golden Globe and an Emmy. The sitcom has also spawned several foreign adaptations, loosely inspired by the original scripts.


PlotEdit

See also: List of The Nanny episodesJewish-American Fran Fine, fresh out of her job as a bridal consultant in her fiance's shop, first appears on the door step of Broadway producer Maxwell Sheffield (Charles Shaughnessy) peddling cosmetics, and quickly stumbles upon the opportunity to become the nanny for his three children. Soon Fran, with her off-beat nurturing and no-nonsense honesty, touches the whole family as she gives the prim-and-proper Maxwell and his children a dose of 'Queens logic,' helping them to become a healthy, happy family; a family that she later fully joins when she becomes engaged and then married to Maxwell. She then adds to this family of five when she and Maxwell have fraternal twins.

Other characters include sardonic butler Niles (Daniel Davis), and Maxwell's socialite business partner C. C. Babcock (Lauren Lane), who views Fran with jealousy and skepticism.

CastEdit

Main castEdit

Main article: List of The Nanny charactersThe Nanny maintained an ensemble cast, keeping the same set of characters for its entire six-season run. Numerous secondary characters and love interests for these characters appeared intermittently to complement storylines that generally revolved around this core group.

Character Actor
Fran Fine Fran Drescher
Maxwell Sheffield Charles Shaughnessy
Niles Daniel Davis
C. C. Babcock Lauren Lane
Margaret Sheffield Nicholle Tom
Brighton Sheffield Benjamin Salisbury
Grace Sheffield Madeline Zima
Sylvia Fine Renée Taylor
Yetta Rosenberg Ann Morgan Guilbert
Val Toriello Rachel Chagall

Guest starsEdit

Although largely operating around the main ensemble cast, The Nanny featured an enormous number of guest stars over the years. Notable repeat guests included Lainie Kazan as Fran's paternal aunt Freida Fine,[2]Steve Lawrence as Fran's never before seen father Morty Fine,[2]Pamela Anderson as Fran's nemesis Heather Biblow,[2]Ray Charles as Yetta's fiancé Sammy,[2]Spalding Gray as Dr. Jack Miller,[2]Fred Stoller for the frequently featured pharmacist Fred,[2] and Andrew Levitas as Maggie's boyfriend.[2]

Some celebrities guested as characters in single episodes, such as John Astin, Roseanne as Fran's cousin Sheila, and Joan Collins as Maxwell's stepmother, Robert Vaughn as Maxwell's father. Others appeared as themselves, primarily in connection with Maxwell's business relations, such as Bob Barker, Chevy Chase, Billy Ray Cyrus, Lesley-Anne Down, Erik Estrada, Dan Aykroyd, Joe Lando, Richard Kline, Bette Midler and Eydie Gorme, Jane Seymour, Cloris Leachman, Elizabeth Taylor, Elton John, Jason Alexander, Lamb Chop and Shari Lewis, Andrew Dice Clay, Lynn Redgrave, Hugh Grant, Margaret Cho, Jeanne Cooper, Melody Thomas Scott, Eric Braeden, Shemar Moore, Joshua Morrow and Hunter Tylo; media personalities Roger Clinton, Jr., Alicia Machado, Rita Moreno (who would later play Fran's mother, Dori, on her later series, Happily Divorced), Jay Leno, David Letterman, and Donald Trump; and musicians Lisa Loeb, Eartha Kitt, Brian Setzer, Celine Dion. Rapper Coolio, Whoopi Goldberg, Steve Lawrence and Rosie O'Donnell guest starred as both characters and themselves in different episodes. Two-time "Survivor" Jonathan Penner appeared as Fran's former fiance, Danny Imperialli. James Marsden appeared as Maggie's boyfriend, Eddie, and Telma Hopkins appeared as Fran's "mother" in the episode Fran's Roots. Scott Baio made an appearance as a rookie doctor who was a former schoolmate of Fran's (Fran was his first patient...ever). Jon Stewart portrayed a Jewish love interest of Fran's until it was discovered at a family wedding that the two were cousins; on the June 29, 2011 airing of The Daily Show, Stewart stated he agreed to make an appearance after receiving a personal call from Fran Drescher.[3]

Marvin Hamlisch appeared as Fran's former high school music teacher, a Marvin Hamlisch look-alike. Fran Drescher also reprised her role of Bobbi Fleckman from the 1984 film This Is Spinal Tap and made a cameo appearance as actor "Fran Drescher" in the third to last episode. Charles Shaughnessy had a double role as a foreign sultan in one episode. Drescher's real-life parents, Morty and Sylvia, initially appeared as a couple in the waiting room of Grace's therapist and made subsequent appearances as Fran's Uncle Stanley and Aunt Rose; her Pomeranian Chester appeared as C.C.'s pet in more than a dozen episodes. Renée Taylor's husband, actor Joseph Bologna, and their son Gabriel Bologna, had minor roles as doctors on the show. Ray Romano appeared as Fran's former high school classmate Ray Barone, linking The Nanny with his comedy Everybody Loves Raymond. Tom Bergeron appeared as himself, the host of Hollywood Squares, in an episode in which Maxwell appeared as a star on the show's board as a replacement for Andrew Lloyd Webber. Tyne Daly appeared as a fellow nanny facing forced retirement. David Letterman made an uncredited appearance during a fantasy sequence, where Fran describes how she exaggerated her fame to impress a pen pal.

Theme song and opening creditsEdit

Theme songEdit

The show's original theme was the song "If My Friends Could See Me Now", performed by Gwen Verdon from the 1966 Broadway musical Sweet Charity,[4] but this theme was scrapped after the pilot episode, and it was only heard in the pilot episode in the original CBS run (all syndicated airings of the episode replaced the theme, and removed any mention of it in the closing credits).

The second theme song, "The Nanny Named Fran", which was written and performed by Ann Hampton Callaway and her sister Liz Callaway, would be the theme song for the remainder of the series (and would replace the former theme in syndicated reruns of the pilot episode). Two instrumental versions of the theme song were used in the closing credits, one that is a direct instrumental version of the theme (used only in a few season one episodes), and another that sounds slightly different from the theme song (although the end of the closing theme features an instrumental portion taken almost directly from the main title theme).

Opening creditsEdit

The opening sequence for the pilot featured Fran in front of a white background, getting herself made up going to work as the nanny; at the end of the sequence, it shows Fran heading toward a stroller and a lipstick print appears to the above right.

Along with the change of the theme song from "If My Friends Could See Me Now" to "The Nanny Named Fran" came the change of the opening sequence, which like the theme, describes (with the main characters in animated form) the story of how Fran Fine went from being fired from the bridal shop by Danny Imperiali to becoming the nanny of the Sheffield children. The opening sequence remained the same even though Renée Taylor, Ann Guilbert and Rachel Chagall began to be credited as "starring" in the in-show credits beginning in season five. The only change to the sequence was in season six when producer Kathy Landsberg was promoted to co-executive producer of the series as her producer credit was moved to the in-show credits, while the creator credits of Drescher and Jacobson, and the developer credits of Sternin and Fraser were added in its place.

The animated opening sequence begins with Fran Fine walking into the bridal shop, only to be kicked out by Danny Imperalli. Then, she hitches a ride in a cab, crosses the bridge from Queens, New York to Manhattan and arrives at the Sheffield mansion. Maxwell Sheffield opens the door and observes Fran. Then, he pulls her inside and she falls into the flower pot. Niles dusts her off and puts a cap on her head that reads Nanny. Fran whistles for Maggie, Brighton and Gracie and the four of them form a conga line. C. C. arrives at the door and Fran bumps the door with her hip to close it in her face. Finally, the Sheffields, Niles and Fran gather on the couch for a group picture similar to that of the One Day at a Time series opening.

ProductionEdit

DevelopmentEdit

It was not until 1991 – the same year Drescher decided to visit friend Twiggy Lawson and her family in London, England, that the pair came up with early drafts for The Nanny. Inspired by a culture-clash shopping tour with Lawson's teenage daughter which saw Drescher actually functioning in a less parental but "humorous [...] kind of Queens logic, self-serving advice" mode,[5] she convinced her husband starting work of what she called "doing a spin on [the 1965 film] The Sound of Music."[5] However, it was not until a transatlantic flight to Paris that Drescher persuaded fellow passenger Jeff Sagansky, at the time president of CBS Corporation, for whom she and Lawson had starred in the short-lived TV series Princesses, to meet with her and Jacobson when Drescher returned to Los Angeles.[6]

Back in Los Angeles, the pair pitched their idea to Tim Flack and Joe Voci, both in comedy development at CBS.[5] Sagansky brought in experienced producers Robert Sternin and Prudence Fraser,[5] another husband-and-wife team with whom Drescher had worked before while guesting on Who's the Boss? in 1985 and 1986. Interested, both couples teamed up to write the script for the pilot together, creating a character with the intention to build off Drescher's image. "Our business strategy was to create a show that was going to complement our writing, complement me as a talent,"[5] Drescher said in a 1997 interview with the Hollywood Reporter. As a result, the characters draw deeply on the Drescher family, including Fran Fine's parents, Sylvia and Morty, and grandmother Yetta, who all were named after their real-life counterparts.[7]

CrewEdit

[1][2]7 East 75th Street on the Upper East Side of New York City was used for the exterior shots of the Sheffield townhouse.Most of all early The Nanny episodes were shot in front of a live studio audience on Stage 6 at the Culver Studios generally on Friday nights. During later seasons the taping was no longer performed before an audience due to the complexities of the fantasy sequences, costume changes, etc. On Mondays, the cast went through the script as a table read. On Tuesdays and Wednesdays, they rehearsed before the series' producers and executives. And, on Thursdays and Fridays, the series was shot using a multi-camera set up in front of a live studio audience.[8]

Nearly 100 crew members were involved in the shooting of a single episode.[9] Although Drescher, Fraser, Jacobson and Sternin, the show's only executive producers for the first four seasons, coordinated "pretty much everything" at the beginning,[9] according to Sternin, they eventually found their niche and in the following years, Drescher and Sternin decided to focus on writing story outlines, while Jacobson presided over the writing team, and Fraser observed the run-throughs.[9] The four of them were later joined by Frank Lombardi, Caryn Lucas and Diane Wilk, who served as the series' executive producer throughout the fifth and sixth season respectively.[2]

HumorEdit

The comedy in The Nanny was formulated with many running gags, which contributed heavily to the success of the series. Much of this formula was character-based, with all major characters possessing a specific trait or quirks that provided a source of parody for other characters. The conflicting elements of each character's own comedy were often played off against one another (Fran and Maxwell, Niles and C.C., Maggie and Brighton). Occasionally the characters would break the fourth wall and comment on the situations themselves, or Fran would comment to the audience or look into the camera. Other running gags are the many references to Beatles songs and the musicals Fiddler On The Roof and My Fair Lady. Most of the humor Fran uses is aimed toward a Jewish audience. She makes references to Yiddish words and teaches the Sheffield children to be stereotypical Jews (to never pay retail price, to go after men like doctors, etc.) Most of this humor stems from scenes including her mother Sylvia.

At times, they would also make fun of the star's previous careers or real life off-screen time. This was noticeable when Yetta saw her reflection in the mirror and thought she was seeing Millie Helper from The Dick Van Dyke Show (the role that Guilbert played on that long-running show), Maxwell remembering how he wanted to hire a former cast member from Days of Our Lives but thought he wasn't "British" enough (a reference to Charles Shaughnessy's former series), C.C. using props to hide Lauren Lane's real-life pregnancy at the time, and Fran meeting her idol—Fran Drescher—who gave her a hint on what she (the TV Fran) was going to do in the next scene in the second-to-last episode in the last season.

More running gags include Fran's frequent references to classic TV sitcoms (Such as Gilligan's Island and Bewitched) and her many eccentric family members (some never shown, most of them dying); Fran lying about her age—especially to men; Maxwell fighting through his rivalry with actual Broadway producer Andrew Lloyd Webber; Sylvia loving food in excess; Niles delivering sharp one-liners, often aimed at C.C.; C.C. cold-heartedly reacting to situations that are usually sentimental to others (e.g. the death of Bambi's mother); Gracie psychologically analyzing various situations; Niles getting fired because he embarrasses Maxwell or gives Fran ideas that Maxwell extremely dislikes (like the time when Niles suggested that Max, C.C. and Fran go to the Streisand house); Fran and Val lacking intelligence and obsessing over material possessions (e.g. clothes); Frequent references to Fran's flamboyant wardrobe and her "big hair"; Yetta making disconnected comments revealing her senility; Fran criticizing Maxwell's and Niles' reserved and inhibited British nature; Brighton morphing into a hopeless dork; Fran's attraction to Jewish males; Maxwell passing up the incredibly popular musical, Cats, then becoming upset when such an idiotic idea became a success; Niles' last name never being revealed; C.C. covering her long-unrevealed name (finally given as Chastity Claire in the series finale); C.C. failing to remember the names of the Sheffield children (even convinced by Niles in one episode that there was another child Sydney; note: she didn't have trouble remembering in the early seasons); Sylvia constantly nagging Fran to get married; Fran finding solace in food when she's depressed; Fran's dad, Morty often featured in the series but never actually seen (until portrayed by Steve Lawrence in a few later episodes); Morty's only physical trait being the fact that he is bald, in which he is always comically losing his wig, and has several head mannequins to hold different wigs; Niles offering obvious hints to Maxwell and Fran about them realizing they should be together and hints from each other; C.C. pining over her unrequited romantic interest in Maxwell; and Fran obsessing with Barbra Streisand. There was also the occasional tryst between Niles and C.C., contrasting with their typical open disdain for each other, which was actually love. Season 4 featured a running gag where both Fran and Maxwell kept secret from the other household members "The Thing" (the fact that in the season 3 finale Maxwell tells Fran he loves her, but then in the Season 4 premiere he takes it back). It's also following "The Thing" that whenever Maxwell makes comments denying he has feelings for Fran, she is temporary "paralyzed" (she can't feel her arm, her entire left side shuts down, etc.).

In addition, there is also a great deal of physical comedy in The Nanny including exaggerated falls and chases. Drescher's facial expressions, when shocked or surprised, can also be seen as reminiscent of Lucille Ball's portrayals of Lucy Ricardo and Lucy Carmichael. The parallels were suggested in a few episodes, where an exasperated Mr. Sheffield refers to Fran as "Mrs Carmichael," and asks in another: "Mr. Mooney fire you from the bank again?" Another Lucy reference (in which the family travels to Hollywood) is when he alludes to Fran and "Ethel" stealing John Wayne's footprints, and again when Maxwell says "Miss Fine, you got' some 'splaining to do!" like Ricky Ricardo often said to Lucy Ricardo. The episode that featured a visit from Elizabeth Taylor began with Maxwell and Niles trying to hide the visit from Fran ("Boys, boys, boys. Now do you think my mother gave birth to a dummy 25 years ago?") followed by her gripe "You never introduce me to any of the stars that you know; I've got a good mind to take Little Ricky and... oh. Never mind." Also, there was a reference from the episode of I Love Lucy called "Ricky has Labor Pains" where, Lucy and Ethel dress up like men and go to Ricky's daddy shower. In an episode of The Nanny, Fran sees a man watching I Love Lucy on TV and the theme song plays and she gets a sneaky look on her face and she goes to Mr. Sheffield's mens only club dressed as a man. Viewers for Quality Television calls The Nanny "the 90s version of I Love Lucy. It was well written and entertaining".[10]

ImpactEdit

ReceptionEdit

The show performed poorly its first year. When it was nearly canceled, Sagansky stepped in as its champion. According to Jacobson: "At all those affiliate meetings, he used to say, 'Stick by The Nanny!' He knew it was something special."[11] The sitcom was the first new show delivered to CBS for the 1993 season and the highest-tested pilot at the network in years.[5] The series was also hugely successful internationally, especially in Australia,[11] where it was one of the highest rated programs during the mid-late 1990s.

Although soon emerging as a favorite among the company, sponsors questioned whether the writers had ventured too far in terms of ethnicity and Drescher acted too obviously Jewish.[5] The actress, however, declined to change Fran Fine into an Italian American: "On TV, you have to work fast, and the most real, the most rooted in reality to me is Jewish. I wanted to do it closest to what I knew."[12] By contrast, the producers came to the conclusion that to oppose her should be a family of British origin, so "she wouldn't come across as Jewish so much as the American you were rooting for," Sternin explained. "The idea was to make her the American girl who happens to be Jewish rather than the Jewish girl working for the WASPs."[5]

RatingsEdit

Season № of

episodes

Original airdates Notes Nielsen ratings
Premiere date End date Ranking Est. viewers

(in millions)

1 22 November 3, 1993 May 16, 1994 No. 60 9.52
2 26 September 12, 1994 May 22, 1995 #24[13] 12.5
3 27 September 11, 1995 May 20, 1996 Included "Oy to the World" animated episode. #17[14] 12.4
4 26 September 18, 1996 May 21, 1997 #45[15] 9.1
5 23 October 1, 1997 May 13, 1998 #50[16] 11.5
6 22 September 30, 1998 June 23, 1999[1] Six unaired episodes were shown after series finale. #84[17] 9.3

Note: Ratings for the first four seasons are for household ratings, not viewership figures.

Reunion specialEdit

Name Air date
The Nanny Reunion: A Nosh to Remember December 6, 2004

SyndicationEdit

The show began off-network syndication in September 1998, distributed by Columbia TriStar Television Distribution (now Sony Pictures Television Distribution) on various broadcast television networks in the U.S. The show had aired on Lifetime Television from 2000 until 2008. The show can be seen currently on Nick at Nite in the United States, The Hallmark Channel in the Philippines, Super RTL and VOX in Germany, and Go! and TV1 in Australia. On February 8, 2010, Fran Drescher hosted a week-long marathon of The Nanny, titled "Valentine Schmalentine", on Nick at Nite. The success of the stunt led to Fran hosting "Falling for Fran," a similar week-long Valentine's Day marathon in February 2011. On August 2, 2010, The Nanny began airing on TV Land, commencing with a week-long marathon. On January 1, 2011, The Nanny began airing on Antenna TV, a new digital broadcast network. On August 16, 2011, "The Nanny" began airing on Logo (TV channel).

International syndicationEdit

Outside of North America, The Nanny is broadcast in various other countries and television networks, each with their own schedule for the series. In the United Kingdom, the entire series aired on the digital network Living. In France, the show was broadcast and rebroadcast the same multi-and was a huge success on the channel M6. The French title is "Une Nounou d'enfer" (A Nanny from hell/wonderful). The character of Fran Fine is very famous in France.

Other countries where The Nanny airs include the following:

DVD releasesEdit

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has released seasons 1, 2 & 3 of The Nanny on DVD in regions 1, 2 & 4. Season 3 was released on March 17, 2009 in Region 1, almost 3 years after the release of season 2.[23]

DVD name Ep # Release dates Special features
Region 1 Region 2 Region 4
The Complete 1st Season 22 July 12, 2005 August 9, 2005 July 13, 2005
  • Commentary with Fran Drescher
  • The Making of The Nanny
The Complete 2nd Season 26 May 2, 2006 June 8, 2006 May 10, 2006
  • None
The Complete 3rd Season 27 March 17, 2009 March 5, 2009 March 11, 2009
  • None
The Complete 4th Season 26 TBA TBA TBA
The Complete 5th Season 23 TBA TBA TBA
The Complete 6th Season 22 TBA TBA TBA

AwardsEdit

The Nanny Finds A Home With Viewers". Los Angeles Daily News. Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2011-06-06.

External linksEdit

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