Catching Up With . . . Peter Marc Jacobson (The Man 'Happily Divorced' from Fran Drescher)
Written by Scott Lewis
Jun 12, 2011 at 01:45 AM
Peter Marc Jacobson is most likely a name you have not heard before, and if you have it is probably because he is Fran Drescher's High School sweetheart and husband of twenty-one years, that after their divorce came out. But you know how they say behind every good man...well this is the man behind Fran Drescher and much of her success.
They grew up together in the Flushing Queens area of New York and went to Hillcrest High School where they fell in love. “As soon as we met at fifteen we were best of friends, we were always by each others' side.” After High School they both wanted a career in show business. “ We loved sitcoms, we loved theater, we started doing modeling and commercials to get into the business and she got a part in Saturday Night Fever then a bigger part in a movie called American Hot Wax and that took her to Los Angeles. I was doing commercials so I joined her in Los Angeles and we figured we would stay there until we used up all the money that we had made. Which I think was $10,000 at the time.”
A year later they received a call from their parents telling them it was time for them to get married. “They said 'whatever you want, we'll do.' Fran said 'I think the women should wear black dresses so they can wear them again' and her mother said 'black is for a funeral, I won't come'. So we said 'you plan it how you want it and we'll show up,' and they planned a beautiful wedding.”
While they both started out in front of the camera in TV, movies and modeling jobs, it was Fran who pointed out that his success and happiness may lie behind the scenes. “I wanted to be in front of the camera at first, but I was always more comfortable behind it. It was Fran who said you should really be behind the camera, you are so much more comfortable there. She was right, I remember I was doing a modeling job for winston cigarettes when I decided I should go behind the scenes and that next week I sold two projects, one of them was The Nanny.”
The Nanny was the result of Fran's visit to see friend Twiggy in London. “Fran did a show called Princesses with Twiggy, she went to visit her in London and she took care of Twiggy's little kid and it was like this New York Queen's girl taking care of this proper little English girl and she said It's like the Sound of Music, and she said, 'what do you think of a show where I am like Julie Andrews?'”
The Nanny went on to be hugely successful and changed both of their lives forever. “Our lives took a huge change, we never left the studio when we were doing it for a long time, and the first time, we did we bought tickets to see Barbra Streisand on her first farewell tour. We were like in the ninetieth row of Madison Square Garden. All of the sudden people were chanting 'Fran, Fran' They put Fran's picture on the big tron, and two security guards came and took us out of out seats and we thought they were going to throw us out, but they brought us down to the second row, brought us two chairs and said Barbra wants to meet you after, we looked at each other and said, 'we're not in Flushing anymore.”
After The Nanny left the airwaves, Fran asked Peter for a divorce, and after some therapy Peter came out. The two are still best friends and even consult each other about men. They are back on TV with a new sitcom and again the story is torn from the pages of their life.
Fran was at a pitch meeting with executives from TV Land, and was offering ideas that would keep her behind the camera, when they asked her what it would take to get her back in front of the camera and she told them about her real life experience with Peter. She wanted to create a show where the husband came out and they helped each other with men. “When TV Land heard it, they said 'that's the show we want to buy.”
It is a very fresh story for TV Land that got its' start playing old shows that mostly aired before there was cable, but Jacobson points out that Happily Divorced is true to the roots of the shows that made TV Land a success. “We thought it was a funny, interesting contemporary relationship that could be placed in the old format of a sitcom. Fran even say's 'Happily Divorced is filmed in front of a live studio audience.' It is very retro, but with this very contemporary twist. I think that who we are trying to do this for is people who love old sitcoms, who love a live audience, that's our audience, but also it has a really nice message that love is love no matter what.”
Happily Divorced boast an incredible cast. Drescher plays Fran a florist that works out of her garage, and her husband Peter is played by the incredible comedic talent John Michael Higgins (Best In Show). Peter comes out in the first minutes of the pilot and the hilarity ensues. Most of the first episode is spent introducing us to those closest to Fran and Peter including Fran's best friend played by Tichina Arnold (Martin, Everybody Hates Chris), and her Parents played by a true diva (and I don't use that word often) of anything she tries Rita Moreno. Rounding out the cast are Robert Walden (who you might remember from the ground breaking gay sitcom Brothers on Showtime back in the 80's) as Fran's Father and Valente Rodriguez (The George Lopez Show).
Jacobson hopes the format and the amazing ensemble will reach some with a message of tolerance. “I hope this will open doors to a lot of people that will say, 'you know what? These are people who love each other, and what they do in their private lives, who cares!'”
Happily Divorced premiers Wednesday, June 15th on TV Land, the pilot is strong, and these shows always get better once the cast settles into the rhythm of things, so this is going to be a lot of fun! Also, you don't want to miss the lead in Betty White's Hot In Cleveland. Cleveland is beginning it's sophomore season, and Betty never disappoints. Tune into TV Land at 9, you will be hooked on this hour of fun.
Comment by Shy/
on 2011-06-22 19:26:34 I love this show, It's really great!!! I've always loved Fran. I still watch the Nanny all the time even though I'm 18. But what I love the most about Happily Divorced is, Fran and Peter don't care what anyone thinks. Also, the simple fact of them living together is amazing.