Picture a sage source for incisive advice on romance, and you hardly imagine a bubbly scatterbrain like The Nanny's lead character, Fran Fine.
But that's just what you'll get if you look at Nickelodeon's Nick at Nite this week, where star Fran Drescher reprises her character for Valentine Schmalentine — a collection of love-themed Nanny episodes airing at 11 p.m. tonight and Valentine's Day Sunday night.
Turns out, Drescher has had a far more interesting life than her Queens-bred character — developing a habit for dating young men before the word cougar was cool, while living a second act as an outspoken uterine cancer survivor, HSN celebrity salesperson and a diplomat with the U.S. State Department (really!).
Here's a little insight from showbiz's most unlikely stateswoman (featuring edited comments from an interview transcript).
What love advice does Fran Fine have for the TV viewers of America?
[Laughs] Well, you know, it's all tongue-in-cheek, so I said things like … you don't have to have a boyfriend to enjoy Valentine's Day. For, like, five years I did not have a boyfriend, and I would plan the most fabulous evenings for me and all my single girlfriends. There would be like a dozen women, and we'd go out to a fabulous restaurant, and then we'd go see a show, and we were all together, and we got all dressed up, and we professed our love for each other.
Sounds like a really interesting Cinemax movie. What's the difference between how Fran Fine looks at love and Fran Drescher looks at love?
Fran Fine wanted to get married and have a family; very provincial ideas of what her future should be. Even though I love being in relationships, I really don't try to build my life around one.
You created and produced The Nanny with your now-ex-husband, Peter Marc Jacobson. Was it tough playing a character so dependent on a man when you didn't feel that way?
That might have been part of why I ultimately needed to get a divorce. I think that I couldn't find myself within that relationship that I had been in since high school. I had never even as much as bought a chair without saying, what do you think, honey?
You played a cougar in the 2005 WB series Living with Fran way before Courteney Cox made it cool. Do you feel ahead of your time?
I almost always am involved with younger men. … There's a natural curiosity and interest from a young man if the woman is sexy because she's gonna be more comfortable in her skin, more confident in the bedroom. But you can't take it seriously, because eventually they're gonna want to show off everything they know with someone their age or younger. At the end of the day, the dude needs to feel like the dude.
In 2008, you were appointed a U.S. diplomat on women's health issues, sparking a lot of snarky news stories about the Nanny as an ambassador. Did that bother you?
I have reinvented myself. I've gotten laws made in Washington, and now I've written two New York Times bestselling books. So, you know, I think that, for the most part, I've been very well received for my efforts to leverage international celebrity and help women on a global level.
The recent book, Star: How Warren Beatty Seduced America, says you turned down a threesome with Warren Beatty and another actress while auditioning for Ishtar. Is that true?
They probably picked up on a chapter I (wrote) in my first book, Enter Whining, a humorous book about an ordinary girl in extraordinary situations while trying to make it in Hollywood. The angle of that story is really how much of a fish out of water I was; I really didn't know anything. So I got nervous, and I just sort of ran to the ladies' room.