PETER MARC JACOBSON: FRAN DRESCHER’S EX HUSBAND GOING GAY
by David Cohen
photos by Jeff Lipsky for TV Land
It was almost perfect. For over two decades Peter Marc Jacobson and Fran were in love. Everyone though it would be forever — just like a fairytale.
Fran and Peter met in high school in Flushing, NY. For the next 19 years the two were inseparable, and very much in love. In 1978, at the age of 21 they were married. The newlyweds decided to leave New York and move to Los Angeles to pursue their dreams of becoming big stars.
In 1993, after working diligently in Hollywood for a number of years, the couple’s big break came in with the TV series The Nanny, which both Peter and Fran co-created. The TV show became an instant success with Peter as the
executive producer and writer, and Fran playing Fran Fine, the lead character of the show.
Soon after the show aired, Peter and Fran received an invitation to attend a Barbra Streisand concert, and immediately accepted. Ironically, Peter had a secret obsession with Streisand but, was uncomfortable admitting this out loud. Infatuate with Streisand as most gay people are, he wrote an episode for The Nanny where Fran’s character was obsessed with Streisand. This allowed Peter to explore his own obsession with the icon without “outing” himself.
When Peter and Fran arrived at the Streisand concert, the crowd recognized them instantly. “Of course, Fran was the one people recognized-she was the star, not me. We heard ‘Fran!’ being yelled by the audience continuously. It didn’t bother me, she was the star and the one who made the big money,” Peter said. From that moment on, they knew they were famous.
Much to their surprise, Peter and Fran were escorted to front row seats. Peter stated, “We kept thinking that someone would be asking for these seats.” After the concert, the two were invited to attend a meet-and-greet with Streisand. “At the end of the evening, Ms. Streisand sent us home in a limo. She was so gracious. All these famous people were there, and we were too. We realized we were not in Flushing anymore.”
As their fame grew, the couple realized they were having difficulty handling the success. Fran was hoping that stardom would add a new dimension and excitement to her life. Disappointed with the outcome, she became depressed.
At the same time, unable to accept his true feelings as a gay man, Peter became a control freak, trying to control Fran’s career and show. The two were constantly arguing, and thus became very unhappy. In 1999, the couple decided to end their marriage and get a divorce. "We never missed a day of work and we always came in on time, so to everyone on the outside, everything looked great. But it wasn’t” Peter said.
In 1999, Peter and Fran announced their divorce on the Oprah Winfrey Show. “We didn’t want to make our story a tabloid thing, so we decided to let Oprah handle it as only Oprah could.”
According to Peter, the marriage didn’t end because of his sexuality. However, because of his frustration of being gay but not out, he took everything out on Fran: he didn't like the way she dressed, the way she acted, or her weight. Obviously, these were just excuses for his denial.
Because of this, Fran and Peter were constantly arguing, causing them both much grief and unhappiness. The man who fell in love with his high school sweetheart always knew he was gay, but buried it deep down. Having lots of sex, and great sex, more than many couples they knew, did not help their unhappiness.
“After the divorce, I moved back to New York and didn’t talk to Fran for almost a year. I hit rock bottom. My family had all passed away. I had no brothers and no sisters, and I couldn’t lie to myself anymore,” Peter stated. After talking with a therapist, Peter finally came to terms with himself as a gay man, and came out to his friends first, and then to his ex-wife, Fran.
In 1985 at the age of 28, Fran had been raped while Peter was held at gunpoint. This was the worst thing that had ever happened to Fran, so, “When I told Fran I was gay, she said, ‘You gotta be true to yourself,’” Peter said.
In 2000, Peter received a phone call from Fran’s agent telling him that Fran had been
diagnosed with uterine cancer. He immediately offered his support, but Fran refused to see him until she recovered.
Peter went back to Los Angeles to cast a movie, and slowly he and Fran began to rebuild their relationship, free of anger and disappointment. The two decided to take a vacation together in Mexico. During their vacation, the ex-couple had so much fun reconnecting and enjoying each other’s company, Fran was inspired to create a new sitcom based on their experience. Thus, Happily Divorced was born.
In June 2011, Peter once again found himself working as producer and writer with Fran on Happily Divorced. However, this time the sitcom was based on the lives of himself, a gay man, and Fran, his ex wife.
Set in Los Angeles, Happily Divorced is about Peter Lovett, a gay man living with his ex-wife (played by Fran Drescher) due to financial difficulties. The couple lives as “a very traditional family. Everyone’s very accepting that he’s gay. They’re both dating–he’s new at it, she’s new at it.”
“Fran is hilarious,” Peter said. “This season will have some wonderful guest stars, including Morgan Fairchild. And Peter, will date a bit. It is a fun season.”
“Fran and I are soul mates, and we choose to be in each others’ lives in any capacity. Our love is unique, rare, and unconditional,” Peter stated. “At the end of the evening when we leave work, Fran goes to her home, and I go to mine. She’s brilliantly talented, and it’s a pleasure writing for her.”
Happily Divorced is about two people who love each other no matter what. Being straight or being gay, it’s all about being truly happy!