NANNY NIGHTMARES

The real-life au pairs to the ultra-rich - and the hot Scarlett Johansson flick that tells their tale

KIDDIE CHASE: Scarlett's "Nanny"
in hot pursuit of
her wee charge.

By KAREN ROBINOVITZ

THE setting: lavish opulence. A world of 18th century antiques, Picassos on the wall, sheared mink blankets and Pratesi bedding. We're talking about apartments with sky-high ceilings, furniture that costs more than most people's annual salaries and sweeping city views. A life filled with drivers and Range Rovers, babies in Bonpoint, reservations at Per Se and vacations in Maui. Sounds like a dream, right? It may be. But not when you're the nanny. And while the new film "The Nanny Diaries," starring Scarlett Johansson, might seem like a fun, exaggerated account of the world of New York kiddie caretakers, the real-life nannies we spoke to say the flick is actually more fact than fiction.

Indeed, as it turns out, the world of 10021 Nannies - sometimes called "740 Park slaves," referring to the domestic helpers who work for the affluenza residing at ritzy 740 Park Avenue - is not so fabulous when part of your job description is "don't drink anything other than water in order to avoid stains."

Or when that trip to Hawaii involves staking out a beach cabana at 4 a.m. and waiting until the family wakes up to occupy it seven hours later.

Welcome to caretaking in Manhattan, a community full of over-the-top displays of wealth and entitlement juxtaposed with crazy demands.

"I was permitted to only use one bathroom in the house - there were nine others," says Jane, a nanny for the rich and fabulous who asked to remain anonymous in order to protect her job.

There are wild bouts of stinginess.

"I was told not to spend more than $10 on lunch for myself. Meanwhile, I would take the kids on thousand-dollar shopping sprees at FAO Schwarz," reports a former Fifth Avenue nanny who also wishes to remain anonymous. She has since moved on to a happier Park Avenue gig.

At her new job, she's allowed to wear whatever she wants - at her old job, there was a stiff, uncomfortable uniform that made it virtually impossible to get "down and dirty" when she needed to. In many cases, a lot of abuse is heaped on nannies.

"After reading a grocery list of my tasks for the day, [my employer] threw the paper in my face and poked me with her pen," cries another nanny, who wants to remain anonymous due to a lawsuit she is filing against her former boss.

Sounds like a Jerry Springer buffet.

A day's work for this nanny? Up at 5 a.m. for baby feedings, prepping breakfast - which often included making breakfast for the parents - and getting the kids ready for school while trying to decipher the cryptic to-do lists that the lady of the house prepared for her. Then she spent time with the baby; picked up dry cleaning; cleaned up the kids' rooms; fed the baby; and tried to somehow fit in a bathroom break.

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