For Fran Drescher, art reflects life on ’Happily Divorced’
When it comes to art reflecting life, few television shows come close to "Happily Divorced."
On the new comedy series Fran Drescher plays a LA-based florist who ends her 18-year old marriage when she discovers her husband is gay. In 1999 Drescher ended her 21-year old marriage to producer and "Nanny" co-creator Peter Marc Jacobson. Two years later he came out.
Recently the couple got back together - creatively at least - to come up with this new sitcom for the cable network TV Land (it airs Wednesdays at 10:30pm). The show’s premise has the divorced couple (her ex-husband is played by John Michael Higgins) living together out of necessity and navigating through the travails of single-living.
The show premiered last month to a mixed critical response. One critic - Mark A. Perigard from the Boston Herald - observed that "with ’Happily Divorced,’ TV Land, the cable channel for baby boomers, finally may have found the perfect companion to its smash ’Hot in Cleveland.’"
Draws from her own experiences
EDGE: Hi, Fran. I just watched your first two episodes and they were very entertaining.
Fran Drescher: Great.
EDGE: How does it feel to have the show out there and people watching it?
Fran Drescher: It feels good. The numbers are strong and we are getting a very positive response. I feel that all of the hard work has paid off. We worked so hard to try and make it good.
I went on the mother of all press tours in New York last week and came right back into shooting another show so I would feel defeated if people weren’t enjoying it. It is good to hear that it is well received.
EDGE: It is very interesting that you drew from your life and made this into a show.
Fran Drescher: You know I always write about what I do and draw from my real life experiences. Over the past decade Peter and I have evolved into a new version of ourselves and each other. It seemed like it was fertile ground for a fresh relationship to explore in writing for the screenplay.
I was approached to pitch ideas over for a series. People wanted ideas for a story that I could star in. I said that would have to be my gay ex husband and our friendship and how he helps me with my dates.
The new openness
EDGE: Gay sitcoms have now evolved from "Will & Grace." There are all types of relationships out there on television now.
Fran Drescher: Yes, absolutely. It is the 21st century and I am happy to say that we are living in a society where God willing things are becoming more tolerant. I am glad to see that New York passed gay marriage. I was very involved in trying to overturn Prop 8 in California.
It is unfortunate that there are people that are prejudiced but I think we are moving in a positive direction. I hope there is a change into the integration of gays for a normal part of the human experience.
EDGE: The gay community appreciates your being a big supporter of our rights.
Fran Drescher: Civil liberties is a big platform of mine and I am proud to say that I won the Ally for Equality Award for the Human Rights Campaign.
EDGE: Congrats on that. How is it working with the cast on the show? You have Rita Moreno playing your mother.
Fran Drescher: She is fantastic. Everyone on the cast is great. It is just a wonderful experience. I love everybody. Everybody is mature and at a place in their life and appreciate the good fortune that we have particularly with this comedy, to be working with such talented people. We have such quality writers. We are just all appreciative and happy.
EDGE: You play a florist. Do you have a green thumb and good with plants?
Fran Drescher: I love arranging flowers. I am not really a gardener. Peter was always the gardener but I love arranging flowers. We were looking for an occupation that would keep us close to the home and give us the opportunity to have nice flowers in the house. It is a pretty set and I enjoy it.
Is comedy easy?
EDGE: Having such a huge success with "The Nanny"... is comedy like this easy for you?
Fran Drescher: We are finding our ground on the show in the same way that we did in "The Nanny." The first year is really critical with building a foundation and developing a formula. We have all of the great writers from "The Nanny" working on this. I think they are succeeding. This is a little more mature and adult of a show. It is about something. The global message of "The Nanny" was it doesn’t matter what you look like or sound like but it is what is in your heart that counts. The global message of this show is love is love.
EDGE: Is there a member in your family that you talk similar to?
Fran Drescher: Probably my mom and my sister all have similar voices.
EDGE: Are you doing any more stage acting? I know you did "Love, Loss and What I Wore."
Fran Drescher: Yeah, that was the last play I did. I love doing theater. I can’t right now because the show is all consuming. It is all I can do to portion out time just to keep myself looking presentable and exercise. Even to find a small amount of culture and socializing to rejuvenate me is a miracle.
EDGE: You look amazing. How do you do it?
Fran Drescher: I work seven days a week on the show. I am going on a hike this morning. At three o’clock I have reflexology. That is the way I do it. I make a plan and that forces me to finish by a clock.
EDGE: Well, thanks so much for taking time to talk to me today. Great to see you back on TV.
Fran Drescher: I appreciate that, thank you!
New episodes of "Happily Divorced" play every Wednesday. Details and listings can be found at http://www.tvland.com.
Watch Fran Drescher and Peter Marc Jacobson talk about "Happily Divorced":
Watch Fran Drescher on The View talk about "Happily Divorced":