Excerpt: 'Brady, Brady, Brady'

Creators of popular tv series provide complete behind-the scenes stories

ByABC News via logo
September 8, 2010, 11:31 AM

Sept. 9, 2010 — -- "The Brady Bunch" is one of America's most beloved TV families to appear on television. It's been over 40-years since they graced our televisions, but it still has many fans.

The series' creator Sherwood Schwartz was inspired by a 1966 Los Angeles Times article about the increasing number of marriages where blending families were the norm. Schwartz produced the show with his son Lloyd. The two partnered again to write "Brady, Brady, Brady: The Complete Story of the Brady Bunch from the Father/Son Team Who Really Know".

Read an excerpt from the book below and head to the "GMA" Library to find more good reads.

With John Rich aboard, we got into casting immediately, starting with the children. Casting kids is much more difficult than casting adults. Adults usually have a body of work to help you make a decision: previous appearances on film, or TV, in various roles. So lacking useful resumes, the interviews with kids are truly critical.

I have four children of my own and that helped me. In addition, I had gone through Pre-Med and I had a Bachelor's Degree as well as a Master's Degree which included five or six courses in psychology. This all served to prepare me for the important job of casting the kids. I knew the series would eventually rest on the little shoulders of those youngsters, because most of the stories would be concerning the children's problems.

I planned to "star" a different kid in each episode from week to week. That's how I designed the series, so that meant each of the children needed to be capable of carrying the story in his/her starring week.I spent an entire summer casting those six kids, but I didn't want typical casting: Like one overweight kid who keeps eating all the time. Or a kid who just talks about sports. Or a brainy kid who knows everything. I wanted the character of the actual child actor to be the determinant. I did have a couple of preconceived ideas. I wanted the oldest of the three boys to be a very responsible kind of boy, and I wanted the youngest girl to be cute.

Other than those factors, I wanted all the kids to be real. And I wanted their series personas to be reflective of their own real personalities. The world was wide open in terms of kids' interests, and the kids I wanted would bring their own interests to their roles.

Since it was summer vacation and kids were out of school, I could interview all day long. And I did.To complicate things further in casting, I had to find six additional Brady kids with opposite hair colors since I hadn't yet determined who the parents would be. I wanted immediate viewer recognition with the kids and parents in terms of hair color. Blonde mother, blonde kids. Dark-haired mother, dark-haired kids. Blonde father, blonde kids, etc. No back story is needed.

As a consequence, to this day, there are three dark-haired girls and three blonde boys about 45-50 years old somewhere in the world who might have been "The Brady Bunch" kids. And they are just finding that out if they're reading this book.

In one case, I made an exception. I cast Mike Lookinland as Bobby, the youngest boy. He had kind of blondish hair, but he was clearly the best actor of the youngest boys. He was 6 1/2, maybe 7. He read very well, and he was the most appealing of the boys who auditioned for Bobby.

If the boys were to be dark haired, I decided we would darken Mike's hair. That's the way it turned out. I know it was an annoyance for him and gave his hair a reddish tinge. But it instantly made him one of the Brady boys. I guess that a very early age poor Mike learned you have to suffer for your art.Since very few young children have much experience, the casting would mostly be determined by the interviews, which were really just chats. That would make the kids feel more comfortable.