The Nanny is an American sitcom television series which originally aired on Syndication from November 3, 1993 to June 23, 1999, starring Fran Drescher as Fran Fine, a Jewish fashion queen from Flushing, New York, who becomes the nanny of three children from the New York/British high society.

The show was created and produced by Drescher and her husband Peter Marc Jacobson, taking 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 twelve 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.

About

The Nanny is primarily based upon the story of nasal-voiced Fran Fine (played by Fran Drescher) who is from Flushing, Queens. Fran appears at the doorstep of a wealthy widowed Englishman, Broadway theatrical producer Maxwell Sheffield (Charles Shaughnessy), while selling cosmetics. Fran has just been fired from her job as a bridal consultant by her ex-fiancé, Danny, and Maxwell mistakenly believes that she has been sent by a nanny agency and quickly hires her to be nanny to his three kids. Fran, with her nontraditional nurturing style and no-nonsense honesty, soon becomes a favorite with the kids as well as Maxwell, as they come to respect her opinions and love her as a person. It is a situation of blue collar meets blue blood, as Fran gives the prim-and-proper Maxwell and his children a dose of "Queens logic", helping them to become a healthy, happy family.

Proudly running the Sheffield household is the butler, Niles (Daniel Davis), who watches all events with a bemused eye and levels problems with his quick wit. Niles quickly recognizes Fran's gift for bringing warmth into the family and becomes fast friends with her. He does his best to undermine Maxwell's socialite business partner, C. C. Babcock (Lauren Lane), in their ongoing game of one-upmanship. C. C. views Fran with a mixture of skepticism and jealousy, as they both have designs on the very available Mr. Sheffield.

Perpetually hovering close by are Fran's stereotypically obsessive and food-loving "Jewish mother" Sylvia (Renée Taylor); her rarely-seen but often-mentioned father Morty; her cigarette-addicted senile grandmother Yetta (Ann Guilbert), dispensing nonsensical advice and often erroneously believing Mr.Sheffield to already be Fran's husband and his children to be hers as well (a belief she does not keep to herself); and Fran's dim-witted best friend Val (Rachel Chagall), keeping her company on the perpetual quest for a husband and constantly reminding Fran how things can always get worse (as Val has much less luck than Fran).

Cast

Fran Drescher as Fran Fine
Charles Shaughnessy as Maxwell Sheffield
Daniel Davis as Niles
Lauren Lane as C.C. Babcock
Nicholle Tom as Maggie Sheffield
Benjamin Salisbury as Brighton Sheffield
Madeline Zima as Grace Sheffield

Special Guest Stars

Renée Taylor as Sylvia Fine
Rachel Chagall as Valerie Toriello
Ann Morgan Guilbert as Yetta Rosenberg

Episodes

Season Episodes Originally Aired (U.S. dates)
Season Premiere Season Finale
1 22 November 3, 1993 May 16, 1994
2 26 September 12, 1994 May 22, 1995
3 27 September 11, 1995 May 20, 1996
4 26 September 18, 1996 May 21, 1997
5 23 October 1, 1997 May 13, 1998
6 22 September 30, 1997 June 23, 1999

Production

Development

The Nanny began in 1991 with a chance meeting on a transatlantic flight between Drescher and Jeff Sagansky, at the time president of CBS Corporation, for whom she had starred in the short-lived TV series Princesses. Drescher persuaded Sagansky to let her and her then-husband Jacobson pitch an idea for a sitcom to CBS. Sagansky agreed to a future meeting once all of the parties were back in Los Angeles; however, neither Drescher nor Jacobson had any idea what to pitch.

Later, while in London, Drescher was visiting friend Twiggy Lawson and her family in London, England, where she went on a culture-clash shopping tour with Lawson's then teenage daughter. Drescher was inspired by her behavior towards the teenage daughter on the shopping trip as functioning in a less parental but "humorous [...] kind of Queens logic, self-serving advice" mode.

Drescher immediately called her husband in Los Angeles with her sitcom idea, which she pitched as a spin on The Sound of Music, except, in Drescher's words: "Instead of Julie Andrews, I come to the door." Jacobson replied: "That could be it" and the idea for The Nanny was spawned.

Back in Los Angeles, the pair pitched their idea to Tim Flack and Joe Voci, both in comedy development at Syndication. Sagansky brought in experienced producers Robert Sternin and Prudence Fraser, 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," 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.[11] Drescher also drew from her own life in creating her character. Like the character in The Nanny, Drescher was born and raised in Flushing, Queens, and attended beauty school. However, unlike her on-screen counterpart, Drescher never worked in a bridal shop; Drescher wrote that into the character as a tribute to her mother, who did work in a bridal shop. While visiting with his relatives in Fort Lauderdale around the holidays, Sagansky watched a few episodes with his relatives, realized that he had a hit, and ordered a full 22 episodes for the first season.

Crew

Most of the early episodes of The Nanny were shot in front of a live studio audience on Stage 6 at the Culver Studios. 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.

Nearly 100 crew members were involved in the shooting of a single episode. Although Drescher, Fraser, Jacobson and Sternin, the show's only executive producers for the first four seasons, coordinated "pretty much everything" at the beginning, according to Sternin, they eventually found their niche and in the following years, Drescher and Sternin decided to focus on writing story outlines along with Timothy Kavanagh of Montreal. Kavanagh, known mainly for his writing with Fraser, added a recognizable dry humor to the show. Jacobson presided over the writing team, and Fraser observed the run-through's. 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.

Professional laughter

Stemming from a home invasion and attack she experienced in 1985, Fran Drescher requested the show to provide pre-screened audiences, based fear of having random strangers invited to the productions. The show hired Central Casting to gather a cast of "laugher's" who would be recorded during taping. The audio track of the laughter's would then be added to the episodes in post-production. Casting director Lisette St. Claire became the world’s first "laughter wrangler" for new type of service, which would continue to be used on other shows.

Reception

The show performed poorly in 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." The sitcom was the first new show delivered to Syndication for the 1993 season and the highest-tested pilot at the network in years. The series was also hugely successful internationally, especially in Australia, where it was one of the highest-rated programs during the mid-to-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. 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." 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."

Syndication

Home media

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

On August 27, 2013, it was announced that Mill Creek Entertainment had acquired the rights to various television series from the Sony Pictures library including The Nanny. They subsequently re-released the first two seasons on DVD on August 5, 2014.

On January 12, 2015, it was announced that Shout! Factory had acquired the rights to the series; they subsequently released a complete series set on May 26, 2015.

In late 2015, Shout! began releasing individual season sets; the fourth season was released on September 22, 2015, followed by the fifth season on December 22, 2015. The sixth and final season was released on March 15, 2016.

External links

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