The Brady Bunch Variety Hour was basically a spin-off of the Donny and Marie show. An entire season of not only what would come to be considered one of the worst shows in television history, but of one of the most blatant copyright infringements of all time.
Sid and Marty Krofft are more known for their puppet creations than their variety shows, but they had many. From Pink Lady and Jeff to Donny and Marie and of course The Brady Bunch Hour
Variety shows were a staple of television since its inception but fizzled out in the early 80s. The Brady Hour was an example of that fizzle. Why would someone want to remind us of a show that even those who were involved like to pretend it didn’t exists? KROFFT.NET asked author Ted Nichelson about what brought him to write Love to Love You Bradys: The Bizarre Story of The Brady Bunch Variety Hour
KROFFT.NET: What originally drew you to the BBVH.
TED NICHELSON: My involvement began innocently enough one evening in Ann Arbor, Michigan while reading through some news group postings on the internet. I was a student at the University of Michigan and probably had more important things to do. But I was curious about this “Brady Variety Hour” that was being rerun on an obscure cable network in Australia. People down under were having the most entertaining discussions about this supposedly terrible show. I became email friends with a few people lucky enough to see the Variety Hour and convinced one of them to record some episodes and send them to me on the other side of the globe. As a childhood fan of The Brady Bunch it was a thrill to see this cast of characters in a “new” series, much of which to this day has still not been broadcast to American audiences since its single and only broadcast in 1976-77.
KN: How did Susan and Lisa become involved in your project? Did you start it together?
TN: I began by starting a website devoted to The Brady Bunch Variety Hour which soon raised some eyebrows. Almost immediately I received an email from Maureen McCormick’s mother Irene who was so very entertained by what I had put together. In the next year this was followed by interviews with cast members such as Geri Reischl, whom I spent six month trying to locate, Chris Knight, and finally Susan Olsen. Susan was particularly awestruck by my website because she had suppressed her memories of the Variety Hour and was shocked to have them coming to the surface once again. Over several years of becoming friends and relocating to Los Angeles after graduation, I asked her if she would like to collaborate on a book about the series. Fans had been encouraging me to move forward on such a project for a long time and I knew that Susan would be the perfect compliment to such a publication.
Lisa joined the project in 2004 when we decided the format would be a coffee table book. Not only is Lisa Sutton the official ‘Bradyologist’ but she is a talented graphic designer which a lot of experience in that realm. She designed ‘Growing Up Brady‘ so she was the obvious choice for ‘Love to Love You Bradys.’
KN: There is so much information in the book, was it challenging locating the lesser known cast and crew?
TN: It was really quite difficult tracking down everyone, and was nothing less than being a private investigator. I had to call around and talk to people who knew the person I was looking for, and get enough information (such as the name of a spouse, child, or other relative) so that I could l search public records. The most difficult people to locate were Geri Reischl, Charkie Phillips, Madeline Graneto, and Robyn Blythe. I began looking for Geri about 10 years ago and at the time nobody had heard anything about her since about 1980. Now we all know her, but at the time she was completely anonymous and living a normal life.
Finding photographs of some of the deceased individuals was also extremely difficult and often took many months of hunting.
KN: What was the most difficult part of writing the book?
TN: The most challenging part of writing the book was taking all the disparate elements and great stories, then weaving them together so they began to tell a story and paint a picture of what the mid 70s was like in television. Susan and I wanted the book to have a distinct academic tone, which was part of the parody – that we took something seemingly unnewsworthy and made it interesting to read about. I think we succeeded in that goal and it turned out that the material was fun, entertaining, and historically significant. A lot of people are surprised by how interesting ‘Love to Love You Bradys’ really is.
KN: Any plans for a follow up?
TN: I think we’ve pretty much exhausted the topic of ‘The Brady Bunch Variety Hour,’ but perhaps we’ll collaborate again on something related. My next book is an autobiography with actress and comedian Geri Jewell, which should be out in 2011.
KN: Were the Krofft Brothers open to you doing the book?
TN: Sid and Marty have distinct personalities, so their individual approach in participating in the book was different. Sid likes to chat on the phone and remembers a lot of things. He invited me to come meet him a few times to discuss things further and was just the sweetest person. Marty, on the other hand, was much more business-like but also very warm and helpful. He invited Susan and I to his office where we discussed the book and then went to lunch. They were just the nicest people and I am grateful to them.
KN: Do you know if Sid and Marty have seen the book? Did they have any comment?
TN: None of us have heard from Sid and Marty so I do not know if they saw the book. If they called me I would be sure they were sent a book, so the offer is open. I think they are both so busy that they may not even be aware it is out yet.
KN: Are you a fan of any of the other Krofft works? If so, which ones?
TN: I am not very informed about their shows, but I can name them all and have watched clips on YouTube to get an idea for their creative style and to understand how it colored their involvement with ‘The Brady Bunch Variety Hour.’ I became good friends with Van Snowden, who played HR Pufnstuf, and I learned a lot of about the Kroffts and their shows by listening to him tell many great stories.
KN: After being immersed in the Krofft/Brady world for so long, how would you sum up the experience?
TN: The first thing that comes to mind is that ALL of these people on both sides are the NICEST individuals you could ever hope to meet in Hollywood. A lot of producers, directors, and actors are so very rude, egocentric, unapproachable and distracted. The Kroffts and Bradys couldn’t be farther from this stereotype. It was a true honor, privilege, and joy to meet all of them and to preserve some of their memories for the ages.
KROFFT.NET would like to thank Ted Nichelson for the interview, and urge you to get your copy of Love to Love You Bradys today.