Spectator – ‘The Nanny’ Robs the Cradle

May/December romances are in. Just ask Hollywood. But we’re not talking Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta Jones. There’s absolutely nothing new about older actors dating younger actresses (can you say Bogie and Bacall?) Nope, it’s the older woman/younger man scenario that’s making headlines, specifically the relationship between Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher.

Perhaps hoping to ride the coattails of this trend, actress Fran Drescher’s new sitcom “Living With Fran” debuted in April on the WB’s Friday night line-up. It features Drescher as a 40-something divorcee with two kids who is dating a younger man.

“He’s a big, blonde goy, and he works with his hands. He’s a contractor, a carpenter,” the star of “The Nanny” fame recently told The Journal.

Working titles for the show, according to the Web site imdb.com included “Robbing the Cradle” and “Shacking Up,” seeming to prove the creators’ interest in playing up the older woman/younger man aspect of the show.

Although it may be trendy, however, the storyline actually also imitates Drescher’s own life. After divorcing the husband who had been her high school sweetheart, the 47-year-old actress became involved with a man 16 years her junior.

Unlike Fran Fine, Drescher’s character on “The Nanny,” the actress said this character — Fran Reeves — hits closer to home. “She got married very young … but by the time she hit 40, it was like she started living her life backward, which is what I’ve been doing,” Drescher said, “enjoying a youth that she never allowed herself to have in the first place.” However, like Fran Fine, Drescher’s new character will still seem familiar to viewers.

“It’s me, and it’s my voice and it’s my brand of comedy,” she said.

The voice — pure Brooklyn nasal — cannot go unmentioned. And when Drescher says “it’s me,” a big part of that is distinctly Jewish. She said for that reason, choosing to play another Jewish character seemed the only option for her.

“The television sitcom is a very fast medium,” she said, “and I think that one of the keys to success in sitcoms is to play a character that you understand very well … to give it the rich specificity that I think is required to create a character that the public can really embrace week in and week out.”

As for the “goy” boyfriend, Drescher, who is also an executive producer, makes no apologies. Her character is Jewish, as are her kids, and Jewish references will be frequently made.

However, “Lucy and Ricky got so much humor out of the fact that he was Cuban and she was Irish. It’s funny!” she said.

“Living With Fran” airs Fridays at 9:30 p.m on KTLA.