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Sherwood Schwartz, "Poison" Investor: How the "Brady Bunch" Creator Became an Indie Film Hero

Photo of Dana Harris By Dana Harris | Indiewire July 13, 2011 at 4:37AM

With the news that Sherwood Schwartz had died yesterday, we wondered if his passing might have relevance for Indiewire -- after all, we were watching "The Brady Bunch" and "Love Boat" well before we saw our first Jim Jarmusch.
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With the news that Sherwood Schwartz had died yesterday, we wondered if his passing might have relevance for Indiewire -- after all, we were watching "The Brady Bunch" and "Love Boat" well before we saw our first Jim Jarmusch.

But childhood nostalgia didn't seem like enough of a hook. And then, I saw a Facebook post from Christine Vachon. (See below.)

So, as Schwartz might have said, here's the story: The TV producer along with Haynes' grandparents, joined the limited partnership that funded "Poison."

"Todd Haynes grew up in Los Angeles, in Encino," said Vachon. "And his grandparents were friends with the Schwartzes."

The more interesting element, of course, is that the man who created "Gilligan's Island" saw fit to invest in the subversive and transgressive "Poison." Said Vachon, "I'm not sure he completely understood this movie, but he was very supportive."

In addition to his financial contributions, Schwartz also sent Haynes a letter ("at first I thought it was an email, but Todd reminded me that his was probably before emails") with some sage advice: "Don't be afraid to entertain people."

As to whether Schwartz ever saw "Poison," or even read the script, "I honestly don't know," Vachon said. "We certainly didn't keep it from him. Todd's grandparents were incredibly proud of him."

"Poison" was the first and last Schwartz investment in the Haynes canon. "The next movie we made was 'Safe' and that was with American Playhouse and we were off to the races."

Vachon paused. "I guess I should have gone to him for 'I'm Not There.'"