Talking art, career advice, and live TV with GREASE LIVE!’s Eve Plumb
Sunday night on FOX, the iconic musical GREASE will air live with some familiar faces from all corners of the entertainment world. Aaron Tveit (GRACELAND, LES MIZ) plays Danny to Julianne Hough’s Sandy. Carly Rae Jepsen (Frenchie), Vanessa Hudgens (Rizzo), Carlos PenaVega (Kenickie), and Kether Donahue (Jan) are just some of the names joining the show.
Eve Plumb (who you know first from THE BRADY BUNCH but whose varied career also includes gallery shows for her fantastic art work) will be playing Mrs Murdock – the T-Birds’ beloved shop teacher. I had the chance to chat about the premiere with Eve – we also talked about art, career advice, why she DVRs CSI: CYBER and what else is happening these days. Check it out!
You’ve played such an iconic character for years, we all know Jan Brady, but bringing yourself to live TV, GREASE LIVE and another iconic character is Mrs Murdock. What drew you to it? How did it come together?
I auditioned! I’m always auditioning as much as I can. I put myself on tape because they’re filming in Los Angeles, and then I auditioned here in New York.
Over the years, you’ve done live theatre, so many different genres. What is it about live TV that sets it aside?
It’s sort of a mix. It’s a mix of doing theatre and doing television. Certainly, sitcoms have been filmed in front of live audiences, but usually that’s taped. If you do a talk show, that’s live, and that’s immediate, but that’s just sort of having a conversation. This leaves no room for error [laughs].
Had you been a fan of GREASE?
I had done a production of GREASE back right around the time that the movie came out, maybe when the second movie came out, that Fran Drescher, and her husband, Peter Marc Jacobson played Danny and I was Sandy. So I’m familiar with the work and I haven’t seen the movie since it came out because I want this to be its own thing, what we end up doing with my role. But the other thing is that I did a TV movie called PORTRAIT OF A TEENAGE RUNAWAY that was directed by Randal Kleiser, who also had directed the movie GREASE.
I would say you have a little bit of history with the work!
Yeah! [laughs] It’s been there in my life.
We’ve seen the success of THE WIZ on NBC, it’s such a good time for live musicals on TV.
Yes, it is. It’s a new format and we have so much content. So much content is available in different formats now that it’s dizzying. Obviously the delivery system is television and our computers, but it’s a different thing. It’s theater and it’s live. It’s recorded but it’s not. It’s interesting.
You mention the different things that are out there. We’ve seen so much change where suddenly everything is streaming and suddenly there are 145 new shows every year. It is dizzying. It’s insane how much we’ve advanced in the past few years alone.
Yeah, so now, they talk about the watercooler conversations – did you see such and such a show, and now it’s almost as if we can curate our own entertainment. We do curate our own entertainment by picking and choosing what we want to watch, not what’s on.
It’s funny how the streaming world has brought back so many shows we’ve loved. You have stayed active as Bradys, as family members. Has there been a discussion about bringing that back to the world?
Right, yes! It does seem to come back and come back around a fair amount. We’ll see. It probably will! I don’t know of anything right now.
Over your years in the business, is there a role or genre or something that you haven’t gotten to do but would really like to?
I don’t have something in mind. I’m always just open to what comes along. Some things come to mind but I don’t really want to jinx it [laughs]. I’m going to keep that to myself!
I looked at some of your paintings – you’re incredible! When did that become something that you were going to actively pursue?
Gosh probably 10-15 years or more now. It’s sort of sporadic. It happens in between the acting jobs because of focus. I like to be able to focus on the one thing at a time. It’s been about 10-15 years. I started showing it to friends, and they liked it, and I got some interest, and it sort of snowballed. You follow the thread – this gallery liked it, and another gallery seems to, so they pick me up. Do a show there. I just had a show in Chattanooga that was very successful.
That has to be a good outlet to focus on putting your art on canvas.
Right, and it’s also something that I have control over. I can choose when I do it, where I do it, how I do it.
It’s a situation where you don’t get bored by it. If you don’t want to paint today, you don’t paint today.
We talked about the streaming and all of the shows out there – are there shows that you watch that you can’t get enough of?
I really love THE GOOD WIFE and because I record it on the DVR, and because it’s on CBS, it gets pushed, so I have to record the show before and after it [laughs] to make sure I get the whole show. I’ve been watching the second season of THE AFFAIR. The first season sort of zipped by me but I’ve been watching the second season of that, and then a show called DRUNK HISTORY that is great.
Do you get people who ask for advice about how to keep a career going? Do you have advice for how to keep a career going? A lot of people fizzle or flame out but you’ve been able to work steadily since you were a child.
I don’t know [laughs]. People don’t ask me, but I think keeping any career going in the arts is a challenge and you can only keep trying because it’s so sort of out of your hands. You can only offer what you have and ask for what you want, and the answer is not always yes. That’s why I was excited to get this role – you’re auditioning all the time, or hoping for auditions, and then to actually get the job is just great.
I know you were filming MONSOON – what can we expect from that?
It’s a very sweet story. A love story about some high school graduates. I played the cranky grandma. It’s a feature.
One of your most recent movies had made it on the festival circuit – what’s that like, being on the festival circuit that people are really responding to?
BLUE RUIN did that, BLUE RUIN went through the festival circuit. Again, this is one of those low budget movies, so I only worked a few days on it, and didn’t have an idea of how it would really look, and so I got to go to Sundance which was amazing and so odd to be where the whole town is all Hollywood and movie and New York people. There’s no diversity at all. It’s just Hollywood people [laughs]. And they’re in their winter clothes looking for the next person to talk to! I hadn’t seen a movie until I saw it in a screening and I did realize how good it was. It’s a really suspenseful, wonderful movie.
I always wonder what Park City is like on a day without Sundance!
I had been to Park City before I went to Sundance and it’s a nice little town!
I have to say, I was such a big fan of FUDGE on Saturday mornings back in the 90s.
I think about the show so often!
Oh thank you, thank you! It’s something that really should have gone on a lot longer. And that was a lot of fun to do. I liked it because it was a Saturday morning show that was like an evening sitcom.
Do you get stopped on the streets, do people stop and quote, you know, “Marcia, Marcia, Marcia” or talk about George Glass?
I don’t actually get recognized after all. I probably will after GREASE and doing so much press for it but I even have people say “Eve Plumb, that’s a great name” [laughs] oh wow, Eve, that’s just short and perfect!
Does living in New York help with that? Is it a different world living there?
It’s a different world! It’s funny because I live on the Upper West Side which is just infested with celebrities. I have to find my list and add to it; I see people all the time. The deal is that if you’re a New Yorker, you don’t, I didn’t go up to Dianne Wiest in the grocery store the other day! You know? I looked at her, she looked at me. She knew that I knew and I knew that she didn’t know [laughs] about me. There are times when I want to go up to people and say “I’m famous, too” [laughs out loud]
GREASE LIVE airs Sunday, 1/31, at 7/6c on FOX!
For more info about Eve’s work, head to her official site.