The Sunday, September 12 episode of ABC’s “Celebrity Family Feud” finds “Days of our Lives: Beyond Salem” star Charles Shaughnessy (Shane Donovan) reuniting with his former “The Nanny” co-star Fran Drescher as they battle it out for the best answers and the wittiest comebacks all in the name fun, and most importantly, charity.
Speaking with Soap Opera Network, Shaughnessy tells us about the agreement he and Drescher made with each other regardless of the outcome of the game, and he gives us some insight on a possible reboot of “The Nanny” with tidbits on how that might work out, and the actor recalls how the iconic sitcom was treated by the former powers that be at CBS which led to its seemingly abrupt end.
Running for six seasons on CBS, “The Nanny” followed the life of widowed Broadway producer Maxwell Sheffield (Shaughnessy) who hires Fran Fine (Drescher) to take care of his three children. Initially not the best fit for the job considering she was just looking to sell cosmetics when the butler opened the door, Fran quickly became the key to developing a long-lasting bond between the Sheffields, their extended family in The Fines, and all the hilarity in between.
“It’s extraordinary and very gratifying,” Shaughnessy says about the longevity of the beloved sitcom. “As an actor, you do a job. It’s just a job like any other job, and you are very lucky to get it.” He notes, “We did ‘The Nanny’ and we knew it was a cute show. I knew the pilot was really a great pilot, but it took a little while to find an audience, and then after the second year it started to pick up. We knew it was successful… it ran for six years and did okay in reruns. But none of us… no one had any idea it was going to have the kind of life that it’s had, and here we are two generations later. It’s not just people who weren’t born [at the time] but their children too.”
While he’s no longer the guy with the black hair, Shaughnessy is still recognized for his portrayal as Max on the series. “I look at it now and I go, ‘Who is that guy with that Black hair?’ and people come up to me in their teens and go, ‘Mr. Sheffield!’ I’m just amazed they recognize me. They wait until they hear my voice, and as soon as they hear the voice they go, ‘Oh, my god, it’s Mr. Sheffield.’”
Speaking of his voice, did you know that there were fans who didn’t believe Shaughnessy was actually British and thought his accent was fake? In fact, many not only believed he wasn’t authentic in his speaking voice but they believed that Shaughnessy should have taken lessons from co-star Daniel Davis who was born in America and played the butler, Niles, in the series.
“I had people literally write a letter, a serious one, saying, ‘If you’re going to have an American accent, playing this English guy, at least have him take dialect lessons from the English actor that plays the butler!’ And, I was like, ‘No, no, no! [laughs] Wait a minute. Danny comes from Little Rock, Arkansas. I’m from London’ and they would not believe it. They actually thought that Danny was English and I was an American putting on a very bad English accent. So, go figure.”
As for the reboot of “The Nanny” which Shaughnessy couldn’t speak too much about, he did say that while he personally couldn’t see how a potential reboot could work out he has faith in what Drescher has since cooked up.
“Well, it’s a very good question and it’s come up a number of times,” Shaughnessy tells us after we asked how things were progressing. “I’ve talked to Fran about it, and I remember we had a conversation where I said, ‘I just don’t see how you can reboot [‘The Nanny’]’. There are some shows that work as reruns and there are some that work as reboots. ‘The Nanny’ is a perfect rerun show. It can run forever because it’s timeless and the comedy will stand up through the decades, but I couldn’t understand how it could be rebooted because it’s about this woman coming to a house with these kids and now we’re married, and we’ve had our own babies and she’s my wife. I just don’t see the story.” However, Shaughnessy explains, “Fran actually came up with an idea, and I can’t tell you the details because it does depend on a lot of stuff working out. It is the one idea that I think could work. I think she’s sort of trying to pull it together but there are a lot of moving parts and it might or might not come off. It’s not a contract problem. I don’t think it has anything to do with copyright or anything like that. It’s just about finding a story and a format that makes sense and that’s not going to be bad where the fans are going to want to tune in and want to see Max and Fran as they were. We’re 30 years later and we’re older, and the characters have been married and had their own kids.”
Even though it’s been about 30 years since the show’s debut, Shaughnessy and Drescher, and many in the cast don’t look like they’ve aged at all, to which Shaughnessy appreciates us saying. Although, he jokingly noted, “They’d have to call it ‘The Granny’ instead of ‘The Nanny.’”
Competing against each other on “Celebrity Family Feud,” which airs Sunday, September 12 at 8:00 p.m. ET/PT on ABC, Shaughnessy reveals that even though they are competitors, they’ve made a deal to support Drescher’s charity Cancer Schmancer. “The charity is going to win whatever happens. Whoever won that was going to be the charity,” he says.
As for what it was like seeing Drescher again, Shaughnessy says, “ It was great. You know, we’ve kept in touch. We see each other every now and again, so it’s great to see her and her gang, and I have my family there. We had a great time. We were all horrified by how badly we played the game,” Shaughnessy says jokingly. “It seemed to be that’s not a problem. People enjoy it anyway. We had a great time, hanging out and seeing each other which was fun. It was a very fun day.”
While “The Nanny” had six seasons and 146 episodes overall, which in comparison to many TV shows that have come and gone throughout history was a blessing, the show’s end didn’t come without some conflicts behind the scenes, albeit more from the executive suite at CBS.
“What happened and has happened a lot in TV, was the leadership changed at CBS, and when the new king comes in they want their shows. So, unfortunately, we were sort of the old guard and the new guard was not interested in the old guard’s material,” explains Shaughnessy. “We [Fran and Maxwell] were sort of ordered to get married. Everyone knew that as soon as they got married that would be the end of it but they said that’s what you have to do.”
Even still, the show’s cast remained mostly the same throughout. “It was wonderful that we stayed the same. It was this family which I think is important with sitcoms. It’s comfort food. You want your food to be recognizable. You don’t want to suddenly find something different at the table that you weren’t expecting. It was cozy that way.”
To see all the fun and excitement with Charles and Fran, make sure to tune in to watch “Celebrity Family Fead,” tonight at 8:00 p.m. ET/PT on ABC.