"'Nanny' marries into uncertain future"

Article from USA TODAY from May 1998
by Janet Weeks

A bright future or the beginning of the end?

That's how viewers are left hanging at the conclusion of The Nanny wed ding episode, airing tonight at 8 ET/PT on CBS.

After nearly five years of sexual ten sion, nanny Fran Fine (Fran Drescher) Big and wealthy employer Maxwell Shef field (Charles Shaughnessy) finally marry. But the one-hour episode ends with a cliffhanger that involves their honeymoon plans.

The marriage won't be consummat ed "until fall" Drescher said during a break in rehearsals, later telling the stu dio audience: "We're not going to show you the cliffhanger because we're afraid you'll blab."

And there's another question mark: Producers don't know whether the sit com will be renewed for another year '"Whether the wedding was the grand fi nale or the beginning of a new direc tion, we don't know:' Shaughnessy says. "The network is absolutely inscrutable about this."

wedding Ratings have increased since Fran accepted Maxwell's proposal. But The Nanny is ranked 61st among prime time shows for the season and faces for midable competition in its time slot from ABC's Spin City.

The network is pulling out all the stops with the wedding to boost the show during the all-important May sweeps. Taped on an elegant set that re creates the American wing of New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art, the $1.4 million episode includes:
21 floral arrangements
17 statues
Six topiaries
Eight Greek columns
A ceiling-high wedding cake
An orchestra
A $12,000, size-2 wedding dress.

Drescher, Nanny executive producer/writer as well as star, had a hand in choosing everything from the ivory and gold color scheme to plates of food on the reception table.

"There is a feeling that there's an actual wedding taking place," she said be fore the taping. "I knocked off a few pounds.... There's a buzz in the air."

And while the set is elegant, Drescher's character remains true to her Queens roots. She wears a beehive fit hairdo that resembles a giant hairy egg. Her dress is an over-the-top confection of gold and white. The season finale even hints at a new direction. Fran falls asleep watching I Love Lucy, and Drescher is, through the magic of special effects, transported into the show.

"But our determination to go on getting married shows an optimism that the world is an everlasting place."

Drescher, separated from husband Peter Marc Jacobson (who directs the wedding episode), agrees: "It's a meaningful tradition. It defines the end of one era and the beginning of another."

Shaughnessy says he thinks the series could easily morph into a '90s version of that TV classic, with Fran as a meddling Lucy desperate to get involved with Maxwell's business affairs. Would he enjoy playing a Ricky character?

"In its present incarnation, I think we've mined everything we can out of Maxwell. So if it's an interesting new direction we take, that's fine."

The Nanny is the fifth TV series for Shaughnessy, a veteran of British television and the U.S. soap Days of Our Lives. Weddings, he says, are a TV staple because they convey hope. "We all kind of suspect in our cynical world that things don't last," says the actor, who has been married 15 years.


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