8 Decades of The Hollywood Reporter
A new "Brady Bunch" is under way, 38 years after the original.
There haven't been many 1930s gag writers who did as well as Sherwood Schwartz. When the former writer for Bob Hope's radio show died at age 94 last year, his estate was estimated at $175 million, but in truth, he'd given the majority of it to charity. Most of that wealth came from creating Gilligan's Island and The Brady Bunch, but Schwartz also received ASCAP revenue from co-writing their theme songs. In the case of Gilligan, CBS president James Aubrey gave him just 24 hours to come up with lyrics that would explain the show's plot ("Just sit right back and you'll hear a tale / A tale of a fateful trip") then made him sing it to a room of executives before the show was greenlighted. ("He was a real bastard," Schwartz once said of Aubrey.) He developed the idea for Brady Bunch, the first network series about blended families, in 1966 after reading a study that found about 20 to 30 percent of all families had at least one child from a previous marriage. His first choice to play the father was Gene Hackman, but Paramount nixed that. Brady Bunch, which ran on ABC from 1969 to 1974, wasn't a top 10 show, nor was it a critics' favorite. (Wrote THR: "Bamboo shoots under the fingernails wouldn't be such a bad alternative.") But it became a gold mine in syndication and morphed into an astonishing number of animated series, theatrical musicals, feature films and made-for-TV movies. The news that CBS placed a script order for a Brady Bunch relaunch executive produced by Vince Vaughn (the show was a childhood favorite, and he might play a recurring role as a neighbor) and Schwartz's son Lloyd would add to that wealth. While a show like Brady Brunch might seem to have little in common with Gilligan, Schwartz thought otherwise. "It's about humanity," he said in a 1997 interview. "That's at the basis of all my shows. How do people learn to get along with each other?"