Peter Marc Jacobson is the handsome television writer, director, actor and producer who is best known as the co-creator of one of the most popular sitcoms ever to appear on television, “The Nanny,” as well as the gay ex-husband of actress Fran Drescher. After interviewing Fran Drescher, I felt that Jacobson needed some Get Out! time as well.
Although I have interviewed countless people, from those just starting out to the biggest A-list celebrity personalities, I found Jacobson to be one of my most inspiring favorites. Along with his heartfelt sincerity and his straightforwardness, intermingled with his radiant sense of humor, this sensitive and talented artist was completely captivating and genuine.
I caught Jacobson shortly after he had just finished editing two new pilots for TV.
Peter, what are you editing?
I’m working on two pilots right now. One is with Caryn Lucas, who I’ve worked on with “The Nanny” and a bunch of other shows. The other was with a movie producer and writer who is also working with me.
Yeah, it’s wonderful. I’m having a really wonderful time.
Besides this TV pilot, is there anything else you are working on now?
Yes, I’m working on a Broadway show. I just finished working on another script that I’ve just written with my business partner. I’ve been very busy actually, and hopefully one of these will get sold.
Well, I’m sure if you’re creating it, it has a really good chance.
Thank you. That’s very sweet of you.
I have a couple of gay questions to ask you, if that’s OK? What if anything do you “miss” about being straight?
Oh, wow, that’s a great question. You know, I love Fran. We spent so much time together, and still do. I miss the ease of being able to walk down the street holding somebody’s hand without being pointed at by somebody. I don’t care that much, but little things like that that you don’t have to think about when you’re straight, when you’re gay you still have people staring and looking. You have to think about what state am I in and things like that. So I wish that I could just do that—not that I have anyone’s hand to hold.
Are you looking?
Oh, I’m looking!
Do you ever regret or resent the fact that you missed so many years of enjoying the gay lifestyle, the nightlife, and all the fun that goes with being gay?
No, absolutely not. I think that I am so grateful for every moment of my life that I’ve had so far. I loved my life with Fran. I didn’t feel like, “Oh my God, I was missing something.” I loved my life with Fran! I just knew that there was something that was not right, because I thought about other men sometimes. I felt like I didn’t want to cheat on her. I had all that stuff running in my head, and that was a big problem for me. I felt like maybe I was cheating in my head. I talked to many therapists about it, and they all said, “No, you’re not gay.”
How would they know?
Well, in their opinion they didn’t think I was gay. Maybe I was coloring it so that it sounded like that’s what I wanted to hear. But when I finally moved to New York, alone, and I finally went on some dates…someone was hitting me up to go out with Sharon Stone, and I said no, I don’t know if I’m ready for that. Then I thought to myself, if I don’t want to go out on a date with Sharon Stone I must be really gay! That kind of clicked in my head: that any red-blooded straight man would go on a date with Sharon Stone.
So you had a feeling, and then one day, what, did you just wake up and say “I’m leaving” to Fran?
No, no. Through my life I was always attracted to men, but I was also attracted to women. It was very confusing. I wasn’t really attracted to men sexually until I was going through puberty, but as a young kid I would look at boys and things like that, but I was very attracted to women. When I met Fran I was very attracted to her. I thought she was beautiful, and even though I was attracted to men, I just pushed it away. I didn’t even know what gay was. I lived in Flushing, Queens, in the early 1970s. I didn’t have role models to even know about that kind of stuff. You got married at 20, 21, and you got your girlfriend a beautiful diamond ring, and you went to Leonard’s of Great Neck, and you had a big wedding, and that is what you did. You bought a house, you had kids. It wasn’t a choice really. I did what was expected of me. There was enough there that I couldn’t even see myself with a guy. But I was attracted to men, and I would just push it away. It was like that song “Turn It Off.” I went through a lot of stuff, including a violent crime, and after a while constantly thinking about it, thinking about guys and feeling guilty about it, I totally felt like I was having a nervous breakdown. Then “The Nanny” came along. We basically buried ourselves in that show, because that was our chance in show business. It was a chance to make it big. It wasn’t a time to have a nervous breakdown. I really had to pull it together and do everything I possibly could to make this work, and she did too. And I became so controlling during that show—what she ate, what she wore—because I wasn’t focusing on myself. I just turned everything around to the other direction. Eventually that’s what pulled us apart. It wasn’t being gay or anything like that. Then while we were apart, and I didn’t want to go out with other women, I realized that maybe I should go into a gay bar and see if it happened. So I did, and it did, and eventually I started to become comfortable in that world with the help of some friends and people in the gay community. Funny enough, I wasn’t even outed until like 11 years later, when they called me and said, “We’re outing you.” I said, “Outing me? I’ve been out for 11 years.” So I woke up, and across the CNN subtitles there was a big ticker tape on the bottom, all day: “Peter Marc Jacobson, Fran Drescher’s husband, is gay.”
That’s a really cute story. Now you are an actor, writer, producer, director. You’ve been straight and gay. Is there anything else that you dream of accomplishing?
I want to do the ballet. You know, I would love to be in a Broadway musical. I used to sing. I’ve done off-Broadway, and I would love to be in like Chicago. That is one thing on my bucket list, to be in a Broadway show. That would really be fantastic for me, because I would have been one of those actors who would be in it for 20 years and never change my part. I would learn it, and I would be very happy. But yes, that’s something I would really love to do.
If you were a new addition to a crayon box, what color would you be?
I eat it every day.
It’s healthy for you. So do you have any plans of coming to New York in the near future?
Well, we’re working on a Broadway musical, Fran and I, and if that happens will be doing it in New York. I go to New York about three times a year just to go to the theater, to see what’s happening. I love New York. That’s where I grew up, so any chance I can get to go, I go, and then I get to see everything that’s playing. I see everything I possibly can. I just love it. One of the most exciting things to me was, when I was a little kid, my parents, for special occasions, would take me to the theater. That’s what made me want to do it.
When you and Fran married at the age of 21, did you both want to be in the entertainment business?
Yes. We met in high school in the theater program. In high school they had theater classes, and at the time we were both actors, but still we would do directing, lighting, you did everything. You learned everything. We loved it, and then we would go home together and watch television, sitcoms, and her mother used to stare at us and think, “Oh my god, what is he going to do to make a living?” Yeah, we were lucky it actually happened.
You know, when I saw the two of you on the cruise around Manhattan I felt like you were still so in love.
We absolutely are. We are best friends. We’re soul mates. You know, I truly want her to be happy. I just want her to be happy. I love her so much. You know, when she got married I wrote her a letter, and I said, “The thing that I learned most from you was how to love somebody. And I’m so happy that you have found somebody that you truly love. I’m just so happy for you. That’s all I want.” It’s a real, true friendship. We cry, we laugh, we eat, and in the end we really want what’s best for the other person. I’m very, very lucky to have her in my life.
That is so sweet. And I get it, because I also live with my gay soul mate.
You can trust somebody. You can tell them anything. You have that connection that nobody can break. We’re not married anymore, but we’re actually closer than when we were married.
That’s a great relationship to have. I know firsthand.
We met at 15, and from that moment, from that very moment, there was something about the two of us that we became Fran and Peter. You know, we’re not married anymore, and she’s married. I give them their space, but we have a unique separate relationship.
And you always will.
So is there anything else that you’d like to talk about? I know you do a lot with Cancer Schmancer with Fran.
We always do that. She’s having a health summit. A bunch of women will be getting together dealing with women’s health issues. We are in that time where people are really becoming aware of what they’re eating. You don’t think about fruits and vegetables and stuff like that with chemicals, and that’s what we’re putting in our body. She’s so passionate about people getting checked up. Get a check up early, because if it is something, the better the chance of survival.
Is there anything else you’d like to tell us?
Go see Ruthless, the musical. It’s really funny. I want to thank everybody and the fans that we have for watching our shows and supporting us and being there. It’s so nice to have a fan base so loving and supportive. I’m very blessed.