The cast dishes on big stars almost cast in their roles, those '90s "Brady Bunch" movie remakes, Partridge Family rivalry and which episodes they get asked most about.
It was all things Brady as all six kids from the iconic '70s show converged in Andy Cohen's clubhouse Thursday night to help the "Watch What Happens Live" host live out a childhood fantasy of hanging with one of his favorite TV families.
Hot off the heels of renovating the original Brady house for HGTV, Maureen McCormick (Marcia), Eve Plumb (Jan), Susan Olsen (Cindy), Barry Williams (Greg), Christopher Knight (Peter), and Mike Lookinland (Bobby) reunited to dish on their lives both on and off the camera as one of the most famous kid ensembles in Hollywood history.
Before they re-enter the house for their upcoming HGTV/Food Network crossover special "A Very Brady Renovation: Holiday Edition" on December 16 at 10 p.m. ET, all six of them proved more than willing to dive into 50 years of memories, both together and apart, in a wild conversation so varied we can't even sum it up. It's best to just dive in.
They were down one Brady when the family expanded beyond their "Brady Bunch" sitcom roots and put the kids to recording albums, going on tour and even starring in their own variety hour -- minus one Eve Plumb, who was otherwise occupied with different acting opportunities.
" I think it was the only time Florence Henderson wanted to kill me," Susan said of Eve choosing not to participate. "I said, don’t we all wish we had something better to do."
"The Brady Bunch Hour" kicked off with a variety special in 1976, two years after the show went off the air, that was followed by eight episodes of a regular series, with Geri Reischl famously taking on Eve's character, earning the moniker "Fake Jan" along the way. The show was a bizarre sitcom/variety hybrid with the cast staying in character and featuring elements at home, even as they hosted a variety show for the network.
It ... didn't work.
Mike admitted that he even tried to get out of it, though his shrewd negotiating skills didn't work. As he recalled, his mother drove up while he was skateboarding with the network's offer. "I said, 'I don’t want to do this show. Tell them I’ll do it for twice that much,'" he said, showing off his negotiating skills. "Within an hour, they said okay."
Brady v Partridge
Perhaps because they aired at the same time -- even getting canceled the same year -- and both featured large families, there developed a perceived rivalry between the Bradys and the Partridge family. It became particularly prevalent when both families started releasing albums, and even continued into the modern era.
One caller asked Christoper if it was embarrassing for him to have lost a recent wresting match to "Partridge" star Danny Bonaduce, which led to a hilarious response from the former Peter Brady as he gently explained how wrestling works.
"If you haven’t got the drift on the whole wrestling thing," he said. "It’s pretty much scripted. I got to throw him around as a consequence of me having to lose, because it turns at the very end."
He did throw in as a cheeky add-on, "I broke his rib."
In truth, there wasn't much to the rivalry, as the kids all had more in common than separate. And, according to Susan, they even got some Partridge help along the way.
"We recorded like four albums and went on tour," she said. "To sweeten our voices, which needed a lot of sweetening, we had the real Partridge Family."
"Speak for yourself," Maureen joked, but that's how close the two groups got, with the more vocally-experienced and gifted cast actually stepping in to help out their less musically-inclined counterparts ... which is not how a rivalry works.
"The big difference between the Partridges and the Bradys is the Bradys added choreography," Barry pointed out, with Maureen again ready with the quick retort: "Big mistake."
As the original Brady kids, Andy wanted to know their thoughts on the now-classic "Brady Bunch" movies that came out in the 1990s, recasting all of them and paying a somewhat tongue-in-cheek homage to the original series.
For the most part, the cast's reactions were pretty positive to the first one (so-so on the second) though Eve admitted she hadn't seen them at all. "It’s sort of on the same shelf as those pornos," she said of another entertainment arena their characters had penetrated.
Barry had to give props to Christine Taylor, who became the breakout star in that film thanks to her uncanny portrayal of Marcia Brady. "Marcia in the movie had to freak her out," he said, gesturing to Maureen, who agreed.
She'd been invited to the premiere with her daughter and said that "a couple times I forgot that it was Christine."
Susan said the same props were given to Gary Cole, who stepped into the family patriarchal role. "Robert Reed’s daughter said that she was sitting in the theater, if she closed her eyes, she would swear that was her father," she said of Cole's performance.
But as much as they enjoyed the first film, all agreed "they went downhill from there." By the time the third film came direct to television, Gary Cole and Shelley Long (as Carol) were the only cast remaining from the feature films. "It was horrible," Susan said bluntly.
How would Maureen rate her kiss with Barry? She said it was good, but it wasn't her first kiss. On a scale of 1 to 10, she said it was high on the scale and nodded when Andy said "10."
What did they think of Christopher's My Fair Brady reality show with ex Adrianne Curry? Susan watched and said she "loved it," while Barry said, "I have one word: Why?"
Would the Brady kids ever agree to live together in the remodeled Brady house for a period of time a la "Big Brother" for a reality show? Susan and Barry quickly shot their hands up, but Even shook her head immediately. Maureen was also out, while Christopher said maybe for one night.
Were there any famous stars who almost got their roles on "The Brady Bunch"? Susan revealed that Jodie Foster was up for Cindy, while Mike said Gene Hackman was going to be Mike.
When did "The Brady Bunch" officially jump the shark? Agreeing with the general consensus that it was with the addition of Cousin Oliver, Susan added, "The show was already in the toilet when you add a new cute kid. They just flushed."
Which cast member let the fame get to their head? Everyone agreed that no one allowed any of that to affect them during their time on the show. "But later it became Barry," Mike added, to which Barry could only nod and say, "Yeah."
What did the cast thing about Christopher's "My Fair Brady" reality show about his relationship with his former wife Adrianne Curry? Susan said she loved it, but Barry had the best response. "I have one word. Why?" to which Christopher responded, "Well, that's the question everyone asks all the time."
What is each cast member's most memorable episodes?
- "For me, I guess, it's the nose," Maureen said.
- "Probably Hawaii," said Eve.
- "Yeah, that, and also why did they have you wanting to be Shirley Temple when you were clearly a little too old for that to be cute?" Susan added.
- "What was it like working with Joe Namath," Mike said.
- Andy answered for Chris, who nodded as he said, "Pork chop and applesauce."
- As for Barry? Two words: "Johnny Bravo."
Finally, Andy tested his "Brady" knowledge by asking pointed questions to the cast to find out which of them, if any, did crazy things like steal a boat, raise show pigeons and get banned from "World of Warcraft" for cheating. You can check out that quick-fire round below:
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