The Greg Brady Project

Welcome to the official Barry Williams' blog

My friends call me Barry. From time to time I also hear the name Greg. Yeah, as in Greg Brady. The Brady Bunch represents a fun time in my life. But it’s only part of the story. There’s more to say and that’s what The Greg Brady Project is all about – a place to say it. So, I’ve invited some friends to join me and share their perspectives on the Brady’s, the 70′s and just about everything else. Now, I’m inviting you…

29 Jan
Bob Hunt

Accept No Substitutes

written by Bob Hunt in Blog | 5 comments

‘No…Not Fake Jan’
‘No…Not Fake Jan’

The Brady Bunch has seen its share of stand-ins over the years. The recent passing of Allan Melvin recalls the disappointment that fans experienced during A Very Brady Christmas, in which a faux Sam the butcher is lamely concealed beneath a Santa costume. The same TV movie was notable for the absence of Susan Olsen as Cindy. When The Bradys came along for its brief run, it did so without the participation of Maureen McCormick as Marcia. But among all of the Brady substitutions, none seems so rooted in the firmament of pop culture as the non-presence of Eve Plumb in The Brady Bunch Variety Hour. You know what I’m talking about: Fake Jan.

It’s the legendary actor switcheroo of the 70′s. Even The Simpsons referenced it 20 years later. But why? Perhaps, in some primal way, it symbolizes for each of us the death of our media naivete. We start our television consumption as wide-eyed babes in the wood, taking every image placed before us for granted and without question. Then, somewhere along the line, we begin to entertain the radical notion that maybe, just maybe, we are being lied to. So we take a closer look at all those Bradys doing The Hustle and start to wonder if Jan looks and sounds like we remember. Hey! That’s a Fake Jan! How dare they! I mean, The Hustle is a sufficient crime in itself, but come on! Fake Jan!

And thus another key to the birth and maturation of an icon is revealed: consistency. I think we prefer, whenever possible, that the originator of any character remains the performer who perpetuates it. It helps us avoid all these logical assaults on our narrative psyche as debates swirl around the best James Bond or which Dick makes a better Bewitched Darrin. Some actors are so inextricably associated with a role, and vice versa, that we cannot envision one without thinking of the other. The thought of anyone else taking on the same role is simply…well, unthinkable. And as for the Real Greg Brady – was there ever any doubt?

 

5 Comments

    Laura
    on Jan. 29th, 2008

    Jan was my favorite of the girls. No one ever came close to replacing her. Didn’t one of the Brady specials also have a fake Cindy? Or am I remembering wrong…

    Bryan Irrera
    on Jan. 29th, 2008

    In fact, the ONLY time the complete cast of the Brady Bunch was reunited on film was during the television movie/pilot “The Brady Girls Get Married” (which begat the short lived series “The Brady Brides”). Each subsequent reunion movie/series had at least one sibling (each time a different one of the girls were missing (the boys have all three always come back)). Even the cartoon, “The Brady Kids” doesn’t count as the whole family, because even with all six kids intact it did not once feature cameos by Mike, Carol or even Alice.

    Jonathan Shipley
    on Jan. 29th, 2008

    I wonder if the woman who played FAKE JAN still gets razzed about it. I imagine her working for an actuary. The time: Morning. The place: The company kitchen.

    “Good morning! What are you doing?”

    “I’m making coffee.”

    “It’s not FAKE COFFEE is it?!”

    Laughter.

    “Oh, you got me! It’s FAKE COFFEE just like I was the FAKE JAN!”

    Laughter.

    “So, uh, where can I get a cup of coffee then?”

    “Across the street at Starbucks.”

    “Oh.”

    Eric Greenberg
    on Jan. 29th, 2008

    Good stats Bryan. The original kids did all take part in the cartoon, but actually not for the full run of the series. Marcia, Peter, and yes, even Greg, were voiced by other actors by the end of the show.

    Also, there’s no replacement for Susan Olsen, but since the deed is already done…let’s show a little respect as she was in fact Scott Baio’s girlfiend on “Charles in Charge!”

    Tom
    on Feb. 4th, 2008

    The “fake Jan” looks fine to me. If
    the “real Jan” didn’t want it. So long.
    Long live the “fake Jan.”

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