As a cancer survivor who's particularly concerned about health and how environmental toxins affect it, Fran Drescher is vigilant about the products she uses. "If we start in the home with what we clean with, our personal care items, we can immediately start reducing our risk of cancer. My household is pretty much toxin-free and environmentally safe. My personal care items, deodorant, oral hygiene, moisturizer, all that stuff — I've pretty much transferred all of that. And I eat almost entirely organic in my home."
Drescher returns to TV Land March 7 for the second season of her sitcom "Happily Divorced," which is loosely based on her own experiences as a woman who married her high school sweetheart, Peter Marc Jacobson, who came out of the closet after they split. No hard feelings there, at least at this point — Jacobson executive produces and serves as head writer on the series, and directed the first two episodes, a role he often fulfilled on Drescher's previous hit, "The Nanny." In the sitcom, Fran and Peter (John Michael Higgins) remain housemates post-divorce for economic reasons, and that provides fodder for the comedy.
The season premiere involves a visit from Peter's brother (Jeffrey Nordling), who doesn't know he's gay, and has a history with Fran. "Peter is actually an only child and most of his parents have passed," points out Drescher, explaining that the network asked to have a family invented for him to increase story possibilities. Other dramatic (or in this case, comedic) license has been taken. "I wouldn't explore the darker elements of my life and divorce in the show," says the actress, who survived rape as well as cancer. "It's handled in a much more comedic way. In reality the divorce was a much more painful separation. But I always extract from my real life experience, my journey as a woman, my growth, my personal life always is a springboard for everything. All of her is in me, but not all of me is in her."
In the 12 years since her divorce, Drescher and Jacobson have amassed "a lot of experiences learning how to reinvent our relationship to apply to our series. We have a lot of opportunities to explore more about how Fran experiences being single and Peter becomes more integrated into the gay community. But what they really know how to do best is be married. There was love there once," she reminds.
D.W. Moffett, who plays her off-and-on love interest Elliott, will return, as will Renee Taylor, her "Nanny" mom, as neighbor Marilyn. "Dan Aykroyd wants to do an episode, but we haven't written it yet, and Rosie O'Donnell said she wanted to do an episode," Drescher reveals, offering tidbits on a few future stories. "Fran is going to explore the younger man thing, just to see what that is about. And the parents (Rita Moreno, Robert Walden) are going to have a fight and her mom is going to move in with her."