Wednesday, January 24, 2018

The Brady Bunch Convention (2014)

Here's the story...   Like most 80's children, I grew up on The Brady Bunch (1969-1974) reruns and like many fans, fantasized about being a member of the Brady clan.  I always thought Brian Brady had a far out ring to it.  I was devastated when a family member told me that the kids had grown up.  I thought she was lying just to mess with me.  But a few years later, when I saw a promo for A Very Brady Christmas (1988), I realized she was right.  I couldn't believe the gang was back!  Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Nintendo games aside, that was the best Christmas present of 1988.  I practically wore out my VHS copy throughout the next year, which I still have to this day.  When the groovy news broke that the bunch would coming back to television as a weekly series, I cheered so loud even Pat Conway would've been jealous.  Sadly, The Bradys (1990) only lasted a few weeks as the new format didn't gel with fans.  As I entered my teenage years, my tv obsessions shifted to Saved by the Bell (1989-1993), Beverly Hills, 90210 (1990-2000) and Melrose Place (1992-1999).  But The Brady Bunch Movie (1995) revived my interest in the brood with it's hilarious take on America's favorite family living in the 90s and the DVD releases (yes, I do own the shag carpet box set) have gotten many replays over the last decade.  

In the fall of 2013, it was announced there would be a Brady Bunch Convention in East Rutherford, NJ the following summer.  As a horror movie fan, I was no stranger to the convention circuit having attended several over the years, particularly those pertaining to the Halloween film franchise. 

The guest list was filling out nicely.  For a split second Maureen McCormick was supposed to attend.  Jerry Houser (Wally) and Jennifer Runyon (Cindy, A Very Brady Christmas) were also scheduled but had to cancel for various reasons.  The Brady Bunch Movie had a nice representation and Robbie Rist (Cousin Oliver) and Debi Storm (Molly Webber) were welcome additions.

The sunshine day finally arrived and across the GW Bridge I headed.  The turn out was a bit modest compared to the horror conventions but the fans were just as enthusiastic.   

It was surreal to be in a room full of Bradys, creating a lot of love and good vibes for humanity (that's fine with me!)  

In 8th grade, I failed my exam on To Kill A Mockingbird cause I opted to read Barry Williams' Growing Up Brady instead.  Finding out he made fun of Lloyd Schwartz's wife overacting in a scene from A Very Brady Christmas was more interesting than the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel.

At least Christopher Knight wasn't wearing a nightshirt like he did in A Very Brady Christmas.

It was a twofer meeting Mike Lookinland, who was a also a greensman on Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988).  His wife, Kelly, played the dead waitress at the gas station.  He was pleasantly surprised that I wanted to talk about something other than The Brady Bunch.

Peter Brady aka Sherlock Holmes would've been disappointed in me as I forgot to ask Susan Olsen the real reason she didn't appear in A Very Brady Christmas - honeymooning or being offered less money than her siblings?

Cousin Oliver looking... different.  When it's time to change, then it's time to chANGe.

Geri Reischel (fake Jan, The Brady Bunch Variety Hour)

Caryn Richman (Nora, A Very Brady Christmas, The Bradys)

Christopher Daniel Barnes (Greg, The Brady Bunch Movie)

Paul Sutera (Peter, The Brady Bunch Movie)

Jennifer Elise Cox (Jan, The Brady Bunch Movie)

Olivia Hack (Cindy, The Brady Bunch Movie)

Henriette Mantel (Alice, The Brady Bunch Movie)

Debbi Storm (Molly Webber)

A near floorpan of The Brady Residence...

A panel discussion followed an afternoon of autograph requests and picture taking.  A nice tribute was paid to Ann B. Davis, who sadly passed away a few weeks prior.

I sure as heck wasn't gonna pass up a photo op with The Brady Kids, although I was hoping for my own blue square...

Overall, a swell time was had.  A few absences were felt but that leaves hope for appearances at a future convention.  I have a hunch 2019 would be the perfect year for it, celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the original series.  And if the fan who was dressed as a Silver Platter happens to see this post, I would love to share your picture with your permission.

Related Locations:

The Brady Bunch (1969-1974)The Brady Brides (1981)A Very Brady Christmas (1988)The Bradys (1990)The Brady Bunch Movie (1995)A Very Brady Sequel (1996)

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Beaches (1988)

Some of us are lucky enough to form a deep and meaningful friendship that lasts a lifetime.  They could start on the playground, in the kindergarten classroom or on the beach.  Such was the case of CC Bloom and Hillary Whitney.  Beaches, Gary Marshall's melodramatic tearjerker, tracks the saga of their tumultuous relationship - from their days as pen pals turned roommates, to their estrangement and reconciling where they first met before having to say goodbye again.

I admitted in my post for Stepmom (1998), that several scenes in that movie made me bawl.  Only two films have ever made me cry and Beaches is the other one.  The Wind Beneath My Wings has enough cheddar to spread on an entire box of Ritz crackers but when that plays as the sun sets and CC's smile fades, it gets me every time. 

Beaches was filmed in Brooklyn and New York, NY and Hollywood, Claremont, Pasadena and Newport Beach, CA

Location: The Boardwalk
Address: 37 Riegelmann Boardwalk, Brooklyn, NY  Coney Island Boardwalk 

Location: The Whitney Mansion
Address: 880 La Loma Road, Pasadena, CA

Location: John Pierce's Apartment Building
Address: 532 E 5th Street, New York, NY

Thanks to the Avenue B sign seen when the van turns the corner, it was easy to track this location down.  Unfortunately John Pierce's building has been demolished but the neighboring ones are still there and recognizable...

Location: CC's Lower East Side Apartment Building
Address: 507 E 5th Street, New York, NY

Since John Pierce's building address was 532 and Cici's was 507, I immediately wondered if the building was on the same block and it turns out it was and is still recognizable...

Location: CC & John's Upper East Side Condo Building
Address: 515 E 79th Street, New York, NY

CC soon finds herself movin' on up to the eeeeast siiiiide just like The Jeffersons (1975-1985)  The address is seen briefly on the glass as CC, Hillary, John and Michael head out for dinner... 

If there's a building in NYC for me to visit there is a 97% chance it will have scaffolding around it and this one did not disappoint.  Though on a hot summer day it felt cold there in the shadow ;-)  

Location: Tavern on The Green
Address: W 67th Street & Central Park West, New York, NY

Locations Visited: September 2016, June 2017, December 2017, October 2018