Fran Drescher, best known for her successful mid-1990s primetime run on CBS’ The Nanny, is returning to television as host of her own talk show, which has begun a three-week preview on six Fox owned-and-operated stations.
The Fran Drescher Show, which is a coproduction of Debmar-Mercury and the Fox Television Stations group, is airing on WNYW New York at noon, KTTV Los Angeles at 2 p.m., WTXF Philadelphia at noon, KSAZ Phoenix at 1 p.m., KMSP Minneapolis at 1 p.m. and WOFL Orlando at 11 a.m. The show’s preview was scheduled to kick off on Friday, Nov. 26 and run through Friday, Dec. 17.
“Fran is the perfect person to bring a new ‘voice,’ if you will, to daytime,” Frank Cicha, senior VP/programming for Fox Television Stations, said in a statement. “The female audience knows her, likes her, and we expect the show to bring energy and freshness to these time periods.”
If all goes well, Debmar-Mercury will begin pitching the show to stations for a fall 2011 debut.
For Debmar-Mercury, going well means “the show ought to be able to hold and build an audience, and it has to stand on its own creatively,” says Ira Bernstein, the company’s copresident.
Debmar-Mercury is a fan of bringing out shows for an initial test, as it did with Wendy Williams, which now airs on Fox stations and others across the country. “We think Fran has tremendous upside and tremendous potential, but we don’t fully know yet. That’s why we do these tests,” says Bernstein.
Like all daytime talk show hosts, Drescher will tackle issues that appeal to women, everything from “politics to pedicures,” according to her. Drescher also will serve as an executive producer of the show, alongside Scott Sternberg and Peter Marc Jacobson, Drescher’s ex-husband and with whom she created, wrote and produced TheNanny.
“Some of the best TV hosts—including Oprah, Regis and Ellen—also have been known as good producers,” says Mort Marcus, copresident of Debmar-Mercury. “And Fran is a highly intelligent, highly educated adult woman who’s been through a lot. Women watching daytime television will relate to her.”
While Drescher is known as the woman with the crazy laugh, she’s also the best-selling author of CancerSchmancer, and a survivor of both cancer and rape.
“America will have a chance to see the real Fran Drescher, beyond The Nanny. I’m the girl next door, a self-made woman who has been to hell and back a few times,” said Drescher in a statement.
Like Debmar-Mercury, the Fox station group has embraced the idea of testing new shows before committing to air them across the entire group. The group’s last two tests—The Kilborn Files, featuring former late-night talk-show host Craig Kilborn, and Huckabee, fronted by former Arkansas Governor and Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee—each aired last summer. Both shows underperformed. Wendy Williams is now in its second season, although it ranks last among first-run talk shows.
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