Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Ex-Soap Opera Actress Directs `Nanny' Episodes

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Ex-Soap Opera Actress Directs `Nanny' Episodes

Article excerpt

THIS is the TV sitcom director's realm: a box-like room jammed with people, a far wall lined with a score or more television monitors.

This is Dorothy Lyman's new home. For the first 13 episodes of CBS' "Nanny" this season, she will preside as benevolent ruler of the control room, calling instructions to the four cameras taping the hit show starring Fran Drescher.

It is the morning after the dress rehearsal for the season's first episode, which includes a food fight involving 50 teen-agers and adults.

"I love shot No. 9," she says to a technician, who beams under her approval. She issues a few other comments about the previous night's rehearsal, then walks downstairs to show the sets to a visitor.

"Nanny" is taped in one of the big sound stages at Culver Studio, a newly modernized lot where "Gone with the Wind" was filmed. Rows of bleachers face the sets where the actors perform.

And not just two sets, as in the "I Love Lucy" days. There are half a dozen scenes for the family home, along with two "swing" sets at each end of the bleachers. These are out of view of the audience, but can be seen on monitors.

"At 6 o'clock, we get a big band in here, a 15-piece orchestra," she remarks. "There'll be 300 people sitting up there. It's rockin' and rollin' in here on tape night. The energy is extraordinary."

So is Dorothy Lyman's. Aside from her long days on "Nanny," she appears on weekends at the Geo theater in Hollywood in her own play, "A Rage in Tenure." It has been running since June to critical acclaim.

"This is the first play I've ever written," she says. "It's the largest expression as an artist I've ever had. The great joy is to act in it, because I've never had a part this good."

As if all this is not enough, Lyman has a recurring role as Cynthia Stevenson's mother on "Hope and Gloria," which proved a midseason hit for NBC.

"We work three weeks on `Nanny,' then take a week off," she comments. "So if they want me back, I can do it."

Meanwhile Lyman has her own family to maintain. …

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