Fran Drescher: ‘The Nanny’ Only Aired Because of ‘The Sound of Music’

The Nanny and The Sound of Music are both classics of their genres, however, one wouldn’t necessarily associate one with the other. Despite this, The Nanny might not have aired if not for The Sound of Music and some other classic movies. In an interview, Fran Drescher revealed the special connection her sitcom had to the beloved Julie Andrews film.

Fran Drescher on a bed
Fran Dresher | Anacleto Rapping/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Fran Drescher said 1 sentence about ‘The Sound of Music’ which led to ‘The Nanny’

Firstly, a little background. For a movie producer, television executive, etc. to get behind a project, they often need to hear a pitch — a short description of the project. Often, pitches include comparisons to previously successful movies or shows. For example, the book Raindance Writers’ LabWrite + Sell the Hot Screenplay reports Alien was pitched as “Jaws in space.”

Drescher apparently had her own “Jaws in space” moment. According to the Cape Cod Times, she had to pitch The Nanny to the head of CBS. After cornering the head of CBS, she said a single sentence that changed her career forever.

The Nanny theme

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“When I first had the idea for The Nanny I happened to be on a plane with the president of CBS and I decided to corner him,” she revealed. “Where was he going to go, to coach? So I said, ‘Imagine The Sound of Music, but instead of Julie Andrews, I come to the door.’ He said, ‘Sold!’”

The comparison between The Sound of Music and The Nanny is obvious. Both revolve around a nanny/governess who cares for a group of children only to fall in love with their sick father. The fact that The Nanny was like The Sound of Music makes the show one of several examples of 1960s nostalgia manifesting itself in the 1990s. Other examples include the Psycho remake, That Thing You Do!, and Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery.

The title song from The Sound of Music

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Fran Drescher said the similarities between ‘The Nanny’ and ‘The Sound of Music’ helped the show

In a separate interview with Out Front, Drescher compared The Nanny to The Sound of Music and some other classic musicals from the 1960s. “Everybody gets the relationships; everyone likes the underdog that wins,” she said. “It’s kind of like The Sound of Music, My Fair Lady, and Mary Poppins all rolled into one. I think the global message of the show is what makes everybody feel good. It doesn’t really matter what you look or sound like, it’s what’s in your heart that counts.”

Drescher feels the Sound of Music elements in The Nanny helped it to perform well with a live audience. “There was a live audience for the pilot,” she told The Lewiston Tribune. “They had never really experienced an outrageous character like Nanny Fran Fine that incorporated elements of Cinderella, Mary Poppins, and Maria from The Sound of Music.”

The Sound of Music trailer

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The show was remade in many, many countries

The Nanny went on to last six whole seasons. In addition, it was adapted into sitcoms in several other countries, including Argentina, Chile, Portugal, Russia, Turkey, and Ecuador. The Nanny became a truly global phenomenon — all because of a single sentence about The Sound of Music.