By Christopher A Pape
I’ve interviewed a great many stars. From Broadway to the big screen and everything in between, we are constantly brining our readers’ new and informative interviews. With our January cover, we’ve outdone ourselves.
Ms. Fran Drescher, of The Nanny Fame and now of Happily Divorced is this month’s cover feature. Known for her sharp tongue and equally endearing laugh, Fran has occupied the hearts of many New Yorkers for years.
We’re so glad that she sat down with us to discuss her success, her new show, her work with the LGBT community and her fight against cancer. The whole time she was funny, warm and insightful. I hope you like the piece as much as I liked interviewing her.
Resident (R): How does a New Yorker feel about living in LA?
Fran Drescher (FD): I have lived in LA more than I have lived in New York. I moved out here when I was 20, however, I have a place in New York as well, and they both offer unique aspects to living. I live on the beach here in LA and that is very special; I have the best of both worlds.
R: Where in New York do you live?
FD: On the Upper West Side
R: What makes a New Yorker?
FD: I always consider myself a New Yorker, once you are born and raised in New York that imprint never goes away. I feel proud to be a New Yorker; it is the greatest city in the world. The people are so warm and it’s just a pleasure, it’s such an exciting city, it’s European but it’s also 21st century. There is always so much to do; I always get overloaded when I am in New York because I want to do everything. I have to go back to the beach just to recharge before I start up again. I think also the New York accent is unique. I am from Flushing and it was a wonderful place to be. It is where Simon and Garfunkel grew up and their song “In My Little Town” is about where I grew up.
R: You made a success of being a New Yorker in The Nanny, how was that experience?
FD: The Nanny was an amazing opportunity and was embraced worldwide and continues to be loved all over the world. It was a very iconic show and character, which I am extremely grateful for to have not only created, produced and starred in, but to be a part of such a wonderful experience that makes people feel good and laugh makes me very proud. It acts out everything from being a New Yorker to blue-collar meets blueblood and everything that’s exciting about New York through the portal of Mr. Sheffield.
R: I have to ask because I’m such a big fan of you and The Nanny - is your laugh natural?
FD: I guess the laugh is pretty natural. It wasn’t planned, it just sort of happened and it was a happy accident. I feel like it should say on my tombstone, “Fran made us laugh.” It surprises me how many people ask me to laugh for them.
R: Now you are on a new show, Happily Divorced, how is that?
FD: This season we have some major guest stars that give another lift to the show; the show has matured this season. We get to know the characters in a deeper way and so a lot of the comedy comes out because we have built a history with these people, a simple glance over from Peter to me can get a laugh because people know who we are as people and what the character is thinking. That is very gratifying when a show takes on that kind of familiarity with the viewers. It’s a nice place to visit once a week. There is a lot of fabulous talent; it’s really great and I’m thrilled to be a part of it. It’s a lot of work but it’s very gratifying and I also think it has a social message that makes me proud as well.
R: The show is inspired by your ex-husband who came out to you - how closely related is your reaction to your character’s reaction?
FD: We were already divorced by the time he came out and I knew he was bi while we were still married. It was actually a relief to me because I was feeling guilty that I pushed through the divorce and he didn’t want it. By the time he came out I was already a cancer survivor and in love with another person. I was glad that something positive came out of it for him; he was able to find his authentic self.
R: Can you tell us about you work in the LGBT community?
FD: I am very forthright in speaking out about any group that is marginalized. Civil liberties are a very important platform to speak out on and make change for; otherwise we compromise what this country is based on. Gay civil liberties are one of the most important issues of our time. Anyone who can justify marginalizing that group simply because they are attracted to the same sex is the same thing as saying blacks should not marry whites and that women shouldn’t be allow to vote. It’s the same thing and there is no one group that can stand in judgment of another as long as they are not hurting anyone. The global message of my show is love is love.
R: Tell us about your charity.
FD: I founded Cancer Schmancer and it was a natural progression from The New York Times bestseller I wrote of the same title. We have managed to fill a space that was not being paid attention to, which is prevention, early detection and policy change. We have a new program called Trash Cancer, which I urge all of your readers to check out because this is going to help Americans reduce their risk of cancer. Everyone should be aware of what they bring into their homes, what they eat, what they put on their skin and what they clean with. •