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…

Archive for Category 'Blog'

06 Jan
Bob Hunt

Spirit of ’76

written by Bob Hunt in Blog | 6 comments

Uncle Sam wants YOU…to drink enough 7UP to build this pyramid!

I was in the beverage aisle of my local megamart this morning when a sparkle of green light caught my eye.  There on the end shelf among a host of trendy boutique soft drinks stood several single bottles of 7UP.  They were real glass, with a bona fide bottle cap affixed to the top and 12 ounces of soda inside.  I was instantly smitten by these miniature replicas of the 16-ounce returnable bottles that were ubiquitous in the 70′s.  Then I saw the price:  $1.19.  Each.  And just down the aisle I could pick up a full 2 liters of 7UP for only pennies more.  Still, I hesitated before the retro bottles.  Why?  Should I care in the least how the goods I buy are packaged?  No.  And yet, despite myself, I do.

Somewhere out there is a beverage marketer who knows what memories are triggered when I see that glass 7UP bottle.  As I gazed upon its fragile contours, I saw a corner of my boyhood kitchen stocked with soda for a family gathering, the bottles standing upright in those cardboard carriers with handles that would cut into your fingers as you lugged them through the store.  I felt the coolness of frosted glass upon my forehead on a blistering summer day.  I heard the rattling of the conveyor belt that carried the empty bottles back to the bowels of the store after we had collected our deposit.  Good thing I didn’t pick it up and feel the heft of a bygone packaging era, or I would have found it much too easy to place it in my cart instead of back on the shelf.

The funny thing is this:  I wanted to buy that bottle of 7UP even though I had almost no desire to drink the product inside.  It was all about the packaging, which I reflexively associated with fond memories of my childhood.  Perhaps the strange psychological lure of clever product design, that dastardly method by which we are coaxed into buying things we don’t even want in the first place, was stronger than I thought.  For as I wheeled my empty cart down the aisle, I recalled a copious amount of 7UP being consumed on my street in the summer of 1976.

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29 Dec
Bob Hunt

2008:  All 117 in the palm of my hand.

1969-1974:  The Brady Bunch appears in its initial prime-time run.  As I was born in 1968, I am only dimly aware of its existence, but like Mozart played for infants, the show fills the space around my developing neurons and synapses.

1974-1979:  The First Golden Era of Syndication, in which I am exposed to the Brady canon repeatedly until the episodes are more familiar to me than the oral histories of my own family.

1980:  A friend shows me how he uses audio cassettes to record the sound from television shows by dangling a microphone in front of the TV speaker.  His recordings are low-fi and filled with atmospheric noise like kitchen clangings and his sisters chatting.  I immediately employ his technique to preserve a few Bunch episodes.

1981:  My parents stun the family by being among the first on the block to buy a VCR.  It’s a $500 top-loading behemoth with a wired remote that has one function:  pause.  Video cassettes sell for $15 each, and we try to use every inch of tape at the 6-hr. slow speed.

1982:  The Second Golden Era of Syndication, in which I catch Ann B. Davis mentioning in an interview that there were 117 Brady Bunch episodes, the first time I have ever heard this magic number.  Superstation WTBS runs the Bunch right after Leave It To Beaver five afternoons a week; 15 heavily-edited, commercial-paused episodes can fit onto a single videotape, and I’m on my way to capturing all 117.  “The Voice of Christmas” is the most elusive, as it’s always skipped in the syndication package unless it’s December.

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22 Dec
Bob Hunt

Know any tunes by this guy?

In the beginning there were the notes, and the notes were three short and one long, and they sounded like da-da-da-DUM!  So it was that precisely 200 years ago today, Ludwig Van Beethoven unleashed a momentous big bang upon the musical cosmos with the debut of his 5th Symphony.  Little did its audience know that they were witness to a spark of genius that would fuel artistic inspiration to this day and will likely continue to do so as long as humanity exists.

Consider the international fame and familiarity of those four notes.  Adults and children alike throughout the world recognize the tune and cannot resist singing the next phrase.  Orchestral performances of it are frequent, and personal listenings of its many recordings are constant.  Every facet of modern entertainment employs it as a universal point of cultural reference, whether to set a period mood or simply to tell a joke.  If only Ludwig had pioneered international copyright law and produced progeny that saw to its perpetual renewal, the world would now be owned by the Beethoven family.

But I speak with the jaded voice of a modern consumer, accustomed as I am to big, round anniversary numbers being celebrated for the ulterior motive of selling things.  Ten years is more than adequate for today’s entertainment industry to roll out expanded editions of its popular inventory in deluxe packaging, and 25 years is a legacy.  If only someone had harnessed the power of electricity and invented audio and video recording devices much earlier, I’m sure modern marketers would be salivating over the rights to Ludwig’s archival materials.  Just imagine the Beethoven’s 5th Symphony Bicentennial Box Set: The Ultimate Collection, featuring umpteen CD’s of rehearsals and alternate takes; a plethora of DVD’s including interviews, performances, and making-of featurettes; and a coffee table scrapbook as big as Austria.

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05 Dec
Bob Hunt

What, me starstruck?

written by Bob Hunt in Blog | 1 comment

What did the starstruck fan say to the minimalist composer?  Nothing!

You may have seen recent airings of an entertaining credit card commercial starring Mary J Blige.  In the spot, an everywoman in a hotel elevator is stunned when Blige comes aboard for a few floors.  The dazzled fan tries desperately to compose herself, but she cannot.  As her favorite singing sensation leaves the elevator, she manages to utter only a small and incomprehensible squeak.  It’s a great vignette that perfectly captures the humiliating experience of being starstruck.

Perhaps it resonates with me because I once found myself in a similar situation (well, similar in the geekiest sort of way!).  When I was a freshman at Ohio State in the late eighties, the great minimalist composer Philip Glass came to campus for a marathon performance of his epic Music In Twelve Parts.  The piece was typical of his work in that it consisted of a seemingly endless series of subtly changing repeated arpeggios.  Its length, however, was remarkable, requiring two fifteen-minute intermissions and an hour break in the middle so the audience could get dinner!  As a wide eyed college student who fancied himself a patron of the arts, I ate it up, mesmerized by the hypnotic repetition.  Besides, I was already a big fan of the score Glass had composed for the wordless arthouse film Koyaanisqatsi.

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13 Nov
Bob Hunt

Indoor Recess

written by Bob Hunt in Blog, The Brady Bunch | 6 comments

If only Language Arts were as captivating to them as this moment…

Brady fans, I bring you good news from the world of education.  Those worries that have kept you from sleeping at night, the creeping anxiety that a true appreciation of The Brady Bunch might die with the passing of your generation – I’m here to reassure you that your fears are unfounded.  Oh, I know that too many children today do not know Buddy Hinton from Harvey Klinger.  Yes, I am well aware that the phrases “Oh, my nose!” and “Something suddenly came up” have no special meaning for a depressingly large portion of modern youth.  But I shall not despair.  For I have seen with my own eyes the very evidence that makes me believe The Brady Bunch will be treasured long after its initial audience is gone.

It was the threat of rain that started me on the road to this revelation.  Before dashing off to my job teaching fourth graders, I tossed a Brady Bunch DVD into my bag of graded papers.  If the forecasted precipitation arrived before noon, I would need an acceptable option to keep my class entertained during indoor recess.  Sure enough, we spotted dark skies and a playground full of puddles when the recess bell rang.  I had my makeshift theater ready to go, with a boombox wired to pump out the sound and our trusty LCD projector standing by to splash the vibrant blue opening titles across the length and breadth of our overhead screen.  We arranged our chairs in rows, and soon a familiar theme resounded through the classroom.  Well, familiar to you and me, that is.

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28 Oct
Bob Hunt

The Fonz tries to express that his political convictions were wr…wr…they were wr…

The following hypothetical scenario is so explosively controversial that I precede it with an emphatic disclaimer:  I am making this up, and therefore in no way does it confirm or deny the political opinions or lack thereof of the persons involved.  Having said that, I ask you to consider your reaction to an imaginary YouTube clip featuring a 1970′s-era recording studio.  Gathered around a pair of microphones are present-day Brady kids Barry Williams, Mike Lookinland, Chris Knight, Eve Plumb, Susan Olsen and Maureen McCormick, all of them looking considerably older than their last appearance in these surroundings nearly 40 years ago.  They sway and bop their heads, belt out a few sha-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na‘s, and recreate that classic moment when The Brady Six recorded Time To Change.  Their clothes are much like the groovy threads they wore back then, with one notable exception:  they’re all wearing Barack Obama t-shirts.  If such a clip were made, what would your reaction be?  Is it sitcom sacrilege for actors to mix political opinion with their iconic characters?

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23 Oct
Bob Hunt

I always suspected that Jerry Houser was a good guy.  Jerry Who?  Oh, ye of little Brady knowledge!  Jerry Houser, the actor who portrayed Wally Logan, aka The Man Who Married Marcia Brady.  I’ve always thought that he is probably a very nice person.  Now, I know that the image an actor projects as a fictional character is often unrelated to the true nature of the human being who is speaking the lines.  Take Margaret Hamilton, for example, whom we remember as the Wicked Witch of the West from The Wizard of Oz.  Turns out she wasn’t evil (who knew?).  So just because Wally Logan always seemed like the best brother-in-law a family could have, it doesn’t mean that Jerry Houser must therefore be similar.  It’s just that his performances seemed endearingly genuine to me.  Thanks to Maureen McCormick’s new autobiography, Here’s the Story, I now know that my hunch was on the money.

Oh, you won’t hear much about Houser in the barrage of promotion and press coverage concerning this book.  No doubt you’ve heard a salacious detail or two (or three or four) by now, and whether it’s the nature of modern media or the provocation of a publisher that knows sleaze sells, most all of the publicity has taken a decidedly negative slant.  There’s little point in elaborating upon those details here.  But what’s struck me the most about what I’ve read and heard in all of the recent press is that the positive and redeeming part of Maureen’s story is being largely ignored.

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17 Oct
Barry Williams

Here’s The Story…

written by Barry Williams in Blog, barry | 59 comments

‘Mo & I in our hormonally charged days…’
‘Mo & I in our hormonally charged days…’

Just in case you haven’t been watching the news, talk shows, reading the papers or magazines, listening to the radio or had a chance to go online, Maureen McCormick just released a no holds barred tell all book called Here’s the Story – Surviving Marcia Brady.  I have been asked by CBS’ Early Show, Inside Edition, AP, Entertainment Tonight, The Enquirer, Star Magazine, and a variety of radio programs what my thoughts are about her book dealing with her inner sanctum.

First, I must confess that I have not yet read it in its entirety.  I have read plenty about it and even had parts of it read to me in addition to having an enduring friendship throughout the stages she writes about.  This is not a Brady book per se but I did manage to get a fair amount of ink in it.  This is really a book about Maureen and her struggle to balance a wholly unrealistic image as America’s perfect teenager with the rather troubled person she was.  She speaks very highly of me and our hormonally charged relationship as teenagers.  She accurately describes the condition our condition was in and just how far it went (which wasn’t quite far enough for my young passion).  Still, thanks to the way it was written I come off as romantic and a gentleman (instead of a cad) and we did share genuine affection.

That said it is clear to me no matter how well you think you know someone, you can’t well you know… you can’t judge a book by its cover.  I mean there are some shockers in there.

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22 Sep
Eric Greenberg

Rickles Rules the Emmys

written by Eric Greenberg in Blog | No comments

I’m sorry to say that I only caught a portion of last night’s Emmy Awards. I saw enough to know that ”30 Rock” owned the night, which made me very happy. Saw too little to judge how the reality group hosting experiment worked. And had mixed feelings when I filled in the gaps this morning and saw that Jeremy Piven won best supporting actor again. He’s still a great choice, but it would be great to see Kevin Dillon get his due considering that most people I know think that Johnny Drama makes “Entourage” these days. If you ask me though, the smartest decision of the night wasn’t something that happened, but something that didn’t happen.

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20 Sep
Eric Greenberg

The Old Kotter Crossover

written by Eric Greenberg in Blog | 5 comments

Time for some more pop culture kiss up. A few weeks ago, I went on and on about ”Family Ties” creator Gary David Goldberg and how well he incorporated new characters into his show. Well now it’s time to acknowledge another rare feat in television. Let’s show a little respect for those few and far between TV themes that break out of the box to become legitimate hit songs.  

Now I’m one of the first people to say it’s a shame that theme songs have been virtually eliminated from television, but that’s a completely different argument. When it comes to enjoying a good TV theme, it’s pretty much all about context.

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