Reassembling a dozen cast members from a popular 90s TV sitcom could pose a challenge for any network, much less an individual. But it was a task Fran Drescher relished. As star of the hit CBS series “The Nanny,” Drescher co-created and co-produced the show along with then-husband Peter Marc Jacobson.
“Peter came up with the reunion idea for fans stuck at home during isolation and I said right away let’s do it if everyone in the cast is available,” said Drescher from her home in Malibu.
Unable to meet collectively in a studio due to quarantine restrictions, all 12 credited actors who appeared in the 1993 pilot agreed to participate from their homes in a “Pandemic Table Read” via a Zoom split-screen reading of that first episode, interspersed with cuts from the original broadcast.
Drescher admits the reunion brought memories flooding back. “To see everybody and to hear the words again made me miss the show and everyone in it so much. It gave me a lift during this terrible period. Hopefully it did the same for fans.”
Although nearly 20 years have passed since “The Nanny” first aired, Drescher says she still recalls the pilot and the live studio audience.
“They didn’t know the characters or what to expect from us,” she recalled. “But they quickly got it and were soon anticipating laughing almost before we said the lines. They had never really experienced an outrageous character like Nanny Fran Fine that incorporated elements of Cinderella, Mary Poppins, and The Sound of Music’s Maria.”
Currently starring in the NBC comedy “Indebted,” Drescher has long taken on another role of healthcare advocate following a diagnosis of uterine cancer soon after “The Nanny” ended production. She founded the Cancer Schmancer Movement in 2007 to promote a “whole-body approach to wellness.”
The panic and confusion brought on by the coronavirus pandemic prompted Drescher to produce a series of informative videos she calls Corona Care 4 You. They feature her interviews with health experts and are available on the Cancer Schmancer site (Cancerschmancer.org).
A longtime advocate of natural foods and products, Drescher is especially concerned about environmental toxins. “If we can eliminate them and begin building up the body, it will be in fighting shape to ward off attacks from pathogens such as the coronavirus.”
Isolated at home for weeks like much of the country, Drescher says she’s been catching up on TV shows, writing, and cleaning. As Nanny Fine, Drescher’s famous TV character might not have scolded Niles the Butler for using corrosive cleaning products such as Clorox to sanitize the Sheffield’s home in which the 90s series was set, but today she probably would.
“I use 65% alcohol in a spray bottle with a little water and some peppermint oil which smells nice and has some antimicrobial properties,” she said.
And despite the forced home confinement, Drescher has taken it largely in her stride.
“I happen to like staying at home, so I don’t get cabin fever easily,” she says. “I want to encourage everyone to develop a balance between mind, body, and spirit to get through this difficult time.”
Nick Thomas teaches at Auburn University at Montgomery and has written features, columns, and interviews for over 800 newspapers and magazines. See TinselTownTalks.com.
Photo of Fran Drescher courtesy of Sony Pictures Television.