Thursday, July 3, 2003

"The Bradys Back in Hawaii," which wraps up filming for The Travel Channel today, has the family -- including Barry Williams, left, and Florence Henderson -- retracing their footsteps from 30 years ago.

Aloha, Bradys

The Brady Bunch
is back in Hawaii

"Take that toothpick out of your mouth!"

Florence Henderson, a k a Carol Brady -- American's favorite mom during her stint on "The Brady Bunch" -- was looking at TV son Mike Lookinland (Bobby Brady) and still acting motherly as a television crew began filming five members of the TV family at Don Ho's Island Grill this week.

"Sorry, mom," Lookinland, 41, said, eyes downcast.

"Man, I remember you used to save your toothpicks like for a week," popped in Christopher Knight, who played middle brother Peter Brady in the series that aired from 1969-74.

"Is this like an acid flashback or what?" joked Barry Williams, who played eldest brother Greg.

"Settle down, children, the cameras are rolling," said the slender Henderson, 69.

The 90-minute documentary "The Bradys Back in Hawaii," being filmed for the Travel Channel, finishes a week's filming today on Oahu where the five Bradys, including Susan Olsen Kelly (Cindy), revisit most of the locations the TV family toured 30 years ago for a special episode.

The new documentary, set to air early next year, filmed a luau at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel -- where cast and crew stayed -- and at the Sheraton-Waikiki, "From Here to Eternity" beach, Sea Life Park, Turtle Bay Resort, King David Kalakaua's Summer Retreat and the Don Ho Show.

Don Ho makes an encore performance as the cast of "The Brady Bunch" returns to Hawaii.

Some of the actors went snorkeling, parasailing, rode a glider, took a tour via Atlantis Submarine and shopped in Kapahulu and Waikiki. Williams surfed at Canoes in Waikiki, where he rode waves 30 years ago, and wore the same tiki he used in the first of three Hawaii-based episodes filmed here in the 1972-73 season.

In the old "Hawaii Bound's" opening segment, dad Mike Brady (original star Robert Reed is now deceased) takes the family to Hawaii when his company sends him to check the construction of a building he designed. The Bradys tour the island, and the boys get involved with an ancient curse.

"Pass the Tabu" has Greg saved from drowning, but bad luck continues to plague the family. Alice (Ann B. Davis, who is retired and doesn't like to travel) finds the idol and more bad-luck incidents occur. The boys decide to return the idol to the ancient Hawaiian burial grounds, which leads into "The Tiki Cave," where they meet up with guest star Vincent Price as Professor Whitehead, an archaeologist who scares the Brady boys. The boys return the tiki to the burial cave, but the professor believes they intend to steal his latest find.

Christopher Knight (Peter) and Susan Olsen Kelly (Cindy) were among the five Bradys to return to Hawaii for filming of a Travel Channel special. This time around, they’ll show travelers the sights, from Sea Life Park to Turtle Bay Resort, hopefully without any cursed tikis around.

THE NEW PRODUCTION has been planned since last October but was delayed by the SARS outbreak, the Iraq war and the difficulty of coordinating the actors' schedules, said executive producer and creator James Romanovich.

"'The Bradys are the foremost family in television history," he said. "I thought with the 30-year anniversary of their filming in Hawaii, it would be great to bring them back and have them be themselves in a 'Real World'-style show."

At Tuesday's Royal Hawaiian Hotel luau, the "Bradys" and their real families were surrounded by fans seeking autographs and photos.

"My mom always tried to be like you," 14-year-old Kristine Connelly told Henderson. "She even says, 'OK, what would Carol Brady do?' when there's a problem."

Henderson, who says she answers all the fan mail she receives, made sure everyone who wanted a picture with her got one. The grandmother took time to talk story with fans who shared anecdotes.

"My God, you look exactly the same," 65-year-old Mary Simms, from Los Angeles, told Williams. "Sooo cute."

"Thank you, I think," the actor joked.

It didn't take much coaxing to get the Bradys on stage to hula with Henderson, bumping and grinding to enthusiastic applause.

"Carol, we never knew you had that in you," someone yelled.

"I still have a few surprises," Henderson said.

In another scene, at Don Ho's Island Grill, the singer makes a surprise appearance, just as he did in the 1973 episode, and sings a song with Henderson.

Florence Henderson catches up with Don Ho.

The "Brady Bunch" concept came from Sherwood Schwartz -- also creator and producer of "Gilligan's Island." The three major networks -- ABC, CBS and NBC -- rejected the idea. Then, after the success of the 1968 film "Yours, Mine and Ours," with Henry Fonda playing the father of several children meeting up with Lucille Ball and several kids of her own, ABC came calling.

What is so surprising about "The Brady Bunch's" durability is that it is remembered even though it was never a top-rated show. There have been several Brady specials, a variety show, a play, two films and a book by Williams, "Growing Up Brady: I Was a Teenage Greg."

"It's like a wonderful children's book that you loved as a child that you want to share with your children," Henderson said. "When another generation comes along and finds the show, their parents know it already, so it gives the family something to relate to."

Williams said it's "the fundamental aspects of the show that are timeless.

"It was always about communication, family, getting along, morality, the right thing to do," he said.

And there was a genuine chemistry between the family members. "We really liked and cared about one another, and that's something you can't fake or script," Williams said. "It made the show very relatable to families who may have enjoyed the same values or aspired to them.

"The trials and tribulations of kids growing up, and the problems always associated with that, all families can understand."

But there were some negatives about spending five years on a TV set.

"It's not a normal upbringing, but the real issue is, are the tradeoffs worthwhile?" Williams said. "In my case they were because I had chosen what I wanted to do.

"Being in a series let me watch production and directors and learn the craft. And being famous from the show allowed me to record albums and ultimately act on Broadway and in national tours and produce television."

But being a child star made Williams' life a bit of a fantasy that was hard to let go.

"I became accustomed to things coming to me, and in the real world you have to go after things," he said.

But the kids seemed to have turned out all right. Knight, in his 40s, is a high-tech entrepreneur, co-founding Eskape Labs Inc. in 1998. Olsen, 41, left acting in the 1980s. Lookinland has worked as a camera technician on CBS's "Promise Land" and "Touched by an Angel" and the Stephen King film "The Stand."

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