Last year, the house featured in the beloved 1970s sitcom “The Brady Bunch” ― reportedly “the second most photographed home in the United States” after the White House ― went up for sale. Former *NSYNC member Lance Bass put up a solid offer and seemingly moved forward with design plans, but, at the very last minute, another powerful bidder entered the mix and snatched his dream of owning the iconic home on Dilling Street.
HGTV, the Discovery Inc. network responsible for hit home improvement shows like “Fixer Upper,” “House Hunters” and “Flip or Flop,” threw out a price of $3.5 million ― $1.6 million over asking ― and won the real estate war.
“Isn’t a deadline a deadline?” Bass wrote after his offer was apparently rescinded due to the corporate buyer’s “unlimited resources.”
Even HGTV stars Drew and Jonathan Scott of “Property Brothers” made a bid on the house, unaware their employer was interested in it.
“We all realized if we were going to do any house in the country, this would be the one to do,” Jonathan told HuffPost. “So, fortunately, HGTV got it, put the money toward it, and really overpaid because they wanted to do it right.”
Those immense resources were tossed into “A Very Brady Renovation,” premiering on Sept. 9. The show will follow the six “Brady Bunch” kids ― Barry Williams (Greg), Maureen McCormick (Marcia), Christopher Knight (Peter), Eve Plumb (Jan), Mike Lookinland (Bobby) and Susan Olsen (Cindy) ― as they team up with HGTV stars, including the Scott brothers, to renovate the Brady home to its original form, exact decor included.
The house on Dilling Street was only used for exterior shots, so the interior needed to be completely redone to match the floor plan of the Paramount Studios soundstage where the show was filmed.
Helping the Property Brothers complete the task are Lara Spencer of “Flea Market Flip,” Jasmine Roth of “Hidden Potential,” Leanne and Steve Ford of “Restored by the Fords” and Mina Starsiak and Karen E. Laine of “Good Bones.” The Bradys will be paired up with members of that HGTV talent pool to tackle rooms in the home, each of which will be featured in different episodes of the series. At the end of every installment, the finished results of particular spaces will be revealed until the entirety of the renovation is complete.
If that doesn’t sound like ratings gold, then shiver me timbers.
Our culture’s obsession with nostalgia surely played into HGTV’s choice to reunite one of the most beloved TV casts of all time and get them to renovate their onscreen home. There’s no way the concept could fail, and it’s clear HGTV knows how to play the numbers game with its programming slate.
HGTV ranked No. 4 for the basic cable networks in 2018, averaging more than 1.3 million total primetime viewers, according to Nielsen data. That success has a lot to do with the network’s talent roster, which of course included the uber-popular Chip and Joanna Gaines before they announced the end of “Fixer Upper” in 2018 and the start of a new Discovery partnership: a media company that includes their own network with programming focused on home, garden, food, community and wellness. The Gaineses brought in reliable ratings for HGTV and continue to score numbers as their library airs in reruns, but no, they will not be a part of “A Very Brady Renovation.”
The Property Brothers, however, are happy to carry the torch. (Even if they told HuffPost that “Bro TV” has a nice ring to it if they did ever launch their own network.) They’re also ratings stalwarts and have hosted six different series for HGTV, including “Brother vs. Brother,” “Buying and Selling” and “Forever Home.”
“We are just about to celebrate, at the end of the year, our 400th episode. That means 400 hours of programming, which I think is more than any other person in the space,” Jonathan Scott said, with Drew Scott adding, “We have some great projects in the works that’ll be debuting within the coming months and years.”
The Brady renovation is one of those ventures. The brothers spearhead the first episode and work on the main living area and exterior of the home with Marcia Brady herself.
“I love doing things with my hands, and I love creating and working on homes, but I never would have thought, ‘I’m going to be working with the Property Brothers and painting and doing stonework!’” McCormick told HuffPost. “I was on board right away.”
Barry Williams, who takes on Mike Brady’s den and his character Greg Brady’s attic bedroom, agreed.
“It’s been an absolute gas to have eight of [the hosts] working on our house,” he said. “And the experience, for me, has been very full circle.”
Both McCormick and Williams said that all six “Brady Bunch” kids, or as Williams likes to call them, his “Brady mates,” were thrilled about the project ― and the excitement surrounding the sale of the house only lent to their eagerness to join in on the renovation fun.
“We all haven’t done any kind of reunion in a really long time,” McCormick said, “and when I heard this, I just thought, ‘How clever. This is something that I can totally get behind.’”
McCormick said even her late co-stars Robert Reed (Mike), Florence Henderson (Carol) and Ann B. Davis (Alice) would fully support the idea.
“I really feel their spirits in that house,” she said. “I mean, I feel all of them with me all the time. I really do. And I know they would have been in there with their jackhammers, and their overalls and hardhats on.”
Williams got the sense that producers not only wanted the actors to get their hands dirty but also reminisce about their “Brady Bunch” experiences and bring some of their on-set memories to light.
“HGTV wanted to invest it with some of the emotionality of what actually went on in these rooms,” he said. “So, as the work progressed, we were able to reflect on scenes and where we were at that stage in our lives to not only create a representation of the house and its insides but to invest it with character, as well.”
That aspect of the project solidifies the ultimate goal of HGTV, which is to provide “comfort food” for viewers in a time of turmoil and upheaval, John Feld, senior vice president of HGTV programming and development, told HuffPost last year.
“Ultimately, these programs are about redemption and hope,” added Alison Page, the former general manager of programming at HGTV and now president of Discovery’s venture with Chip and Joanna Gaines. “They’re about making something beautiful, fixing what is broken, honoring the history of something while making it work in the present day. They’re stories about pride in the work and essentially building communities and creating spaces where people can live their best lives.”
Most of all, Page says the network provides its audience with happy endings, something “A Very Brady Renovation” will certainly do.
“I’ve seen the finished product and it’s remarkable,” Williams said.