Peter Marc Jacobson is currently working as an executive producer for the TV Land show Happily Divorced, starring Fran Drescher. The show is based on Jacobson and Drescher's real-life relationship, including their marriage, divorce and the life together that ensued afterwards. It is a witty family comedy that is sure to please a variety of audience members.
Windy City Times: Hello, Peter. During my research for this interview I found that you have produced and written several shows but you have also done some acting of your own. Were there any specific actors or shows that inspired you to begin an acting career?
Peter Marc Jacobson: You know, when I was a kid I was fascinated by sitcoms. I was a big fan of I Love Lucy and it all started from there. I moved to Los Angeles and started doing commercials, modeling and sitcoms. It was a great ground to learn.
Windy City Times: After acting for so many years, what made you switch to producing and being behind the camera?
Peter Marc Jacobson: You know, I drove myself nuts as an actor. I would always question myself and my abilities. It felt like I was doing it just to prove to myself that I could do it even though I wasn't having fun at it. When I was acting Fran used to say you should quit acting and go behind the scenes. With directing and producing you have more control. I was at peace when I started producing shows like The Nanny.
Windy City Times: What was the first show you produced?
Peter Marc Jacobson: The first show I created was a spin-off for Who's the Boss. The show wasn't picked up so I went back to acting. I also wrote a show called CCPD that was sold to Fox but they decided not to produce it. CCPD was a sitcom similar to that of Reno 911! Around that same time I sold The Nanny to CBS.
Windy City Times: Besides your current projects, what production or show did you enjoy working on the most?
Peter Marc Jacobson: When you're lucky enough to have a show like The Nanny that becomes a hit in the '90s on CBS and you have a great actress like Fran working for you, it really feels like a gift. How lucky am I to be able to do what I love and write for amazing actors. I can't believe it was me that actually got to do it. It's very strange to think of but wonderful at the same time.
Windy City Times: The Nanny was co-created by both you and your then-wife, Fran Drescher. Was it difficult to work with your wife in a professional setting?
Peter Marc Jacobson: We worked well together. Of course, we would yell and scream when we disagreed but we knew that the show had to be nurtured and we weren't going to mess it up. It was our baby. She is brilliantly funny and it was a gift to work with her. The hardest part was that during the show our life together was breaking up.
Windy City Times: It says a lot about your relationship that you are still able to continue working together even after the divorce. On a lighter note, I'm sure you have answered this question hundreds of times but did Fran, your wife, really laugh like that or was it a character choice for her?
Peter Marc Jacobson: Nope. [ Laughs ] That's the way she laughs and that's the way she speaks. When I met her in high school she stuck out to me. She has such a unique persona. When I met her parents they had no idea she had a funny voice. She has taken some classes to give her more variety for acting though.
Windy City Times: Has the producing dynamic changed since the divorce, seeing as you were married for the production of The Nanny?
Peter Marc Jacobson: Now the show is based lightly on our relationship but I think we work better now than we did then. It has definitely changed. When I wasn't dealing with who I was I would get angry and work could be frustrating. It's a much easier ride this time.
Windy City Times: Whose idea was it that your situation could be made for television?
Peter Marc Jacobson: Fran and I went to Paris on vacation when we were divorced. It still felt like we were husband and wife, and we discussed the idea. Fran had a meeting with TV Land and they asked Fran what kind of show she would like to do if she were to return to television. She said she wanted to do a show about her relationship with her ex-husband. She said that she wanted to do the show with me and they bought the idea at the meeting. We wrote the script and they bought ten episodes.
Windy City Times: I understand that Fran is playing her character counterpart in the show. Why did you opt to choose another actor to portray your character counterpart? How do you feel about him playing you on the show?
Peter Marc Jacobson: Well, A: I'm writing; there isn't enough time during the day, and B: we discussed it for a while but John Michael Higgins came in and I would be stupid to pass him up. He is so talented and he makes me look good. We found him on the last day of casting. He's so good that I'm thrilled to have him on the show. He and Fran have amazing chemistry. It seems like they are married and you just can't fake that.
Windy City Times: Happily Divorced premieres June 15. What kind of audience are you hoping to reach with the show?
Peter Marc Jacobson: People who like to laugh. It's not offensive; it's a funny adult family sitcom with a twist. Some of the jokes on the show have double entendre so both adults and children will be able to enjoy it. I think they will enjoy a lot of it. If you've ever loved someone a lot but it just didn't work out this show will speak to you. Many people will like it for different reasons. I hope that people give it a chance and tune in.
The TV Land show Happily Divorced, starring Fran Drescher and John Michael Higgins, Wed., June 15, at 9:30 p.m. CT.