Wednesday, June 28, 2000

So, just why does 'Brady Bunch' live on?

        Barry Williams doesn't understand it any more than the rest of the world: The Brady Bunch refuses to die. Out of production since 1974, it still airs twice a day (various times, Nickelodeon) to an estimated 2 million viewers a day.

        Make that 2 million loyal viewers, which is why he still gets mobbed at things like his book signing tonight at Borders where he'll chat with fans and sign the newly revised Growing Up Brady: I Was a Teenage Greg (Good Guy Entertainment, $14), his 1992 book about life behind the scenes on the Brady set.

        This is the book where we find out that he dated Florence Henderson, his TV mom; hid in Tiger's doghouse for make-out sessions with his teen flame, TV sister Maureen McCormick; and came close to being decapitated at Kings Island.

Barry Williams
        That was 1973, when the show was here shooting on location and a camera mounted on the front of a roller coaster broke free and flew into the front seat. The seat was empty, but it was right before he was supposed to ride.

        The updated Growing Up Brady adds new photos, tidbits about the reunion movies and an updated “Where Are They Now” section. “I wanted to address Bob's (Robert Reed, who played his father) death and all our careers. And to be Y2K compliant.”

        It's a lot of updating: Since '74, Mr. Williams, 45, has done Brady movies, developed a night club act, released a CD (The Return of Johnny Bravo), and done a ton onstage, including Guys & Dolls, Victor/Victoria, City of Angels, Music Man and Pippin.

        But he still doesn't know why Brady lives on: “It's a tough question, and probably one with as many answers as people who watch the show. Nostalgia? Brings back your childhood? It's non-pretentious and not interested in slamming anything? I think too that it says something about family and communication.

        “Or maybe it's just the super groovy fashion statement.”

        Maybe we better ask some easier questions ...

        The thing I remember most about Cincinnati ...

Oh, Kings Island. Christopher Knight (Peter Brady) and I went up in a hot air balloon. It was my first time and I loved it. I've done many rides since then.

        If the Brady Bunch were on Survivor, the last one on the island would be ...

Alice, because she was completely self-sufficient. She lived in one room, did all the cooking and cleaning and made her own bed.

        The most enduring lesson I learned writing this book ...

To be patient, that's the lesson. Writing requires patience. I also found my most creative time, unfortunately, is 5-7 a.m., so it put a damper on my night life.

        If Maureen and I had gotten together ...

We would have made beautiful babies. As long as they got her nose.

        One role I really want to play onstage ...

Frank N. Furter in Rocky Horror Picture show.

        One Brady quality I want to see in my own family ...

Communication. That is one of the greatest qualities of our show.

        The thing I hear most often at signings ...

Omigod, I grew up with you. It doesn't matter how old they are. Even 8-year-olds always say something like, “I watched you when I was a kid.”

        Barry Williams signs Growing Up Brady 6-9 p.m. today, Borders Books and Music, Northgate Mall, 9459 Colerain Ave.; 245-9898.



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