A marriage falls apart because the husband admits to his wife that he's gay. Sounds like a pretty standard sitcom set-up, right? For Fran Drescher, it was real life.
Her new sitcom “Happily Divorced,” bowing on TV Land June 15, borrows heavily from Drescher’s actual experiences, in which she and her husband of 20 years, Peter Marc Jacobson – who was also her producing partner and the co-creator of her signature TV series “The Nanny” – divorced after Jacobson revealed his long-supressed sexual orientation to her. The two remained the closest of friends following the split.
“It seemed like a natural,” Drescher tells PopcornBiz. “My ex-husband and I were already writing a film that kind of was inspired by our story as well. We tend to write about what we know. It's a unique friendship, a wonderful relationship, and the global message of the series is that love is love.”
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Drescher says the series – in which she stars as a florist re-entering the dating pool after her lengthy marriage to a realtor (John Michael Higgins) ends – draws its plotlines directly from her own unconventional relationship.
“This week's show that we're shooting now is talking about our codependency on each other, because even though we're divorced it's very hard for us to actually separate,” she says. “That's something that the couple is exploring.”
Drescher, who originally planned to only create and produce the show, says she’s happy she ultimately made the decision to return to television as its star as well. “I'm thrilled,” she says. “It had to be the right project at the right time, and I had to be ready for it. I think that this is it. I like that this is about something meaningful – a relationship and tolerance and love – and I'm in a place in my life where I want the show to be able to say something and maybe inspire people, even though it's wildly funny.”
It didn’t hurt that TV Land, which has provided a welcoming home to many favorite TV faces who might otherwise not fit into the crowded broadcast network lineups, scheduled “Happily Divorced” to air immediately after its high-rated sensation “Hot In Cleveland” – especially after CBS frequently moved around her previous long-running sitcom to help bolster its own new programming.
“I'm delighted that ‘Hot In Cleveland’ is our lead in – God knows that I never had a lead-in on 'The Nanny,'” she says in her signature nasal rat-a-tat laugh. “So it's really wonderful. It's really great that on TV Land I get their strongest sitcom to lead us in. I'm very happy and I can't wait. I hope that America embraces it as our live audience in the studio has.”