Friday, September 30, 2011

Faked, You Out!

Real Kenneth meets Fake Jan

Just noticed that Geri Reischl (aka Fake Jan) posted this photo her friend took of us at Michael Musto's book party the other night. As I've mentioned, Geri and I have a connection because of a post I wrote about her taking over Eve Plumb's role as Jan Brady in 1976 that was included in a book about the the ill-fated "Brady Bunch Variety Hour." Reischl has certainly gotten a lot of mileage out of her Brady turn -- and who can blame her? -- but I think it's interesting to note that no one ever talks about the fact that both Cindy Olsen and Maureen McCormick were also missing in action in other Brady reunions, "A Very Brady Christmas" TV movie (1988) and "The Bradys" series (1990), respectively. In fact, the only reunion to feature all of the original family members was "The Brady Brides" (1981), a short-lived series that ran when I was in 9th grade and was undoubtedly the most anticipated television event of my life. (The Bradys -- finally together again!!!)

Geri Reischl had the look, but no one could replace Eve Plumb, whose recalcitrant ways have been mimicked for the last 40 years. ("Dawn: Portrait of a Teenage Runaway" -- best. movie. ever!)

Jennifer Runyon was way prettier than Susan Olsen, and didn't even have a lisp. Easy to see why Charles was in Charge of her Gwendolyn character a few years before her Brady experien(th)ce.

Leah Ayres filled in (rather poorly) for Maureen McCormick on the downbeat series "The Bradys" (1990). Bobby was a paraplegic (married to Martha Quinn!), Peter's engagement fell apart, Jan and Phillip couldn't have a child (big shock, Jan's frigid!) and Cindy was fucking her boss at the radio station, a widower with two kids. But it was Fake Marcia who stole the show as a messy alcoholic! Eternally nontraditional hubby Wally couldn't hold down a job either, so they were forced to move in with Mike and Carol. Given what we know about the real Marcia now, it seems the role was a bit of typecasting. Might that have been why she sat this one out?

No doubt Dick Sargeant replacing Dick York and Sarah Chalke taking over for Lecy Goranson were the highest-profile television replacements of all time, filling two high-profile roles on highly rated shows.

Sarah Chalke lacked Lecy Goranson's blue-collar Midwest charm, and you could totally believe was Dan and Roseanne's daughter. It got particularly wacky toward the end of the show when Goranson came back (Roseanne said at the time that she hated firing Chalke but that she "wasn't Becky"), only to go AWOL again periodically, with Chalke filling in again. It's pretty crazy when you think of all the shows that pulled this replacement routine, though.

Mary Frann had just the right look and temperament to play Abby in the "Eight Is Enough: A Family Reunion" TV movie (1987), yet I remember being quite sad when I saw a reference to this -- plus her more famous role as Bob Newhart's wife, Joanna Loudon, on "Newhart" -- in her obituary. Not only did she die prematurely (of an undiagnosed heart condition at age 55), the poor woman was always playing second fiddle to some other wife. (Let's face it, there's no substitute for Suzanne Pleshette.) Adding insult to injury, Frann was replaced as Fake Abby in "An Eight Is Enough Wedding" two years later by Sandy Faison!

Judith Baldwin spared Tina Louise a trip to the plastic surgeon, but she got around to it later, anyway

Tina Louise was reportedly eager to distance herself from the role that made her famous on "Gilligan's Island" when producers began talking about a reunion movie. But don't think for a second she didn't love it when Judith Baldwin stepped into Ginger Grant's stilettos for "Rescue From Gilligan's Island" (1978) and "The Castaways of Gilligan's Island" (1979).

The ever-vain Louise was a dozen years older than Baldwin, so I doubt she minded that most Americans thought she still looked like this in a bikini, especially with that bitch Dawn Wells showing up looking like a million bucks.

To Julie Newmar: Thanks for everything, Kenneth in the (212)

The various actresses playing Catwoman weren't really the same type of recasting as some of these other roles, but I always did prefer Julie Newmar to Lee Meriwether and Eartha Kitt. She and Adam West had some serious chemistry, which is what the role was what the feline seductress role was all about. She also seemed to get Robin a little revved up for good measure.

Lastly, along with "Bewitched," the whole Marilyn Munster shakeup was my first experience with recasting. Every so often one of the 13 episodes with Beverley Owen would come on and rock my little world. She may have been first, but Pat Priest will always be Marilyn in my eyes. The Daily News says Owen was unhappy with her life in Hollywood so quit the business. Priest then took on the role for the remainder of the series' two seasons, yet neither returned for the numerous "Munsters" movies and remakes since, including "Munsters' Revenge" (1981), which featured Jo McDonnell as everyone's favorite homely blonde.

I never watched "Dynasty," but I know there were two Steven Carringtons and two Fallons (Emma Samms was Holly on "General Hospital" when I watched). Would love to hear about your recasting memories in the comments section.

And apparently Gordon Thomson was none too pleased when they got Robin Sachs to play Adam Carrington in "Dynasty: The Reunion" in 1991.


mike said...

Marcia, Marcia, Marcia ....

as a kid, I could never get past the fact that Dick Sargeant looked like a bobble-head doll. Tina Louise is the only Ginger. And I feel like a lucky man to have never watched Eight is Enough.

Julie Newmar, awesome ... and Eartha Kitt's "purrrrfect" really helped redeem her.

(Quick aside, Yvonne de Carlo was an incredibly sweet woman. She was in my grandmother's bridge club and made killer spaghetti.)

But, the replacement Steven Carrington killed me ... having freshly sprung from the closet, all I could think about was giving him a crew-cut ... couldn't get excited over the whole big "first gay kiss on primetime" event because he was such a big girl in the first place that it hardly seemed gay.

DrGaellon said...

The epitome of series recasting, which they even retconned into canon, is everyone's favorite Gallifreyan, Doctor Who. We're currently working on the eleventh actor in the role; the show's been around for 48 years (though it did take a 16 year hiatus through the 90's and early 2000's).

Anonymous said...

Dynasty also recast Amanda and then replaced Adam in the reunion. Basically the only ones who were never replaced were Blake, Krystal, Alexis, and Jeff.

Al Corley was a much more nuanced and (frankly) better version of Steven who Jack Coleman just played as a hunk.

The worst was Fallon though. Emma Samms really looked nothing like svelt Pamela Sue Martin. How does an American acquire a British accent? They really went to great lengths trying to convince us that Samms was Martin, reshooting old scenes for flashbacks, re-enacting the exact same title card for Fallon with Samms, and even replacing Martin in a painting with Samms. It never worked. Pamela Sue Martin was athletic and Emma Samms was kind of chunky and English.

Matthew said...

Fake Jan is REAL nice. :0) I'd forgotten 100% about Fake Marcia and Fake Cindy, though.

Julie Newmar is really the only Catwoman.

I preferred Dick Sargeant to Dick York, but I think those two deserve equal standing as Darren.

Craig said...

I never bought it when they replaced Hal Sparks with Aisha Tyler on Talk Soup. That role will always belong to Greg Kinnear.

Gary said...

Most jarring for me was Donna Reed replacing Barbara Bel Geddes as Miss Ellie on Dallas (but just for a year). BBG apparently asked for a year's medical leave, but the producers led Ms. Reed to believe the change was permanent.

Bart said...

There was also the re-casts of the Bradley daughters on "Petticoat Junction", with Bobbie Jo played by 2 different actresses and Billie Jo played by 3, Meredith MacRae being the most popular Bille Jo.

Lynn said...

I'm guessing "Petticoat Junction" was before your time. But every time you turned around, there seemed to be a new Billie Jo or Bobbie Jo. Only Betty Jo (Linda Kaye Henning) stayed for the entire run. (There was a huge turnover among "adult" characters as well, some of it, sadly, because of untimely deaths. Check out a cast list, and you'll see what I mean.)

James Greenlee said...

Bewitched also had two Louise Tates, and several Frank Stevenses.

Anonymous said...

I have JUST been watching the Brady Bunch Variety Hours (all 9 can be found in fantastic quality on line)and am sadly a tad obsessed about it right now. Fake Jan is a pretty good replacement and you can tell she was cast due to her great Jan Brady hair and the fact that she can sing.

whenenrome said...

Putting aside the poor writing of Fallon particularly on The Colbys, I viewed Emma Samms as how Fallon should have always been. They weren't trying to clone Pamela Sue Martin, they were re-creating the spoiled princess daughter of Alexis and Blake. And when she returned to Dynasty / Denver, especially in Season 9 (aka "When Fallon Got Her Groove Back"), I think they were very successful in that re-creation. I loved her.

P.S. - Pffft to the previous comment that called her "chunky."