13th June 1992
Brooke is dumped from E Street… and it’s hard to hold back the tears when you’re only 10.
E Street child star Brooke “Mikey” Anderson tried hard to be brave when she was told her character, Claire Fielding, was to be written out of the series.
But the 10-year-old admits she was hurt by the decision.
“I cried on the inside,” Brooke tells TV Week in an exclusive interview, “I don’t like showing it (emotion) outside.”
Brooke, one of E Street’s original cast members, filmed her final scenes on May 1 after being let out of her contract eight weeks early.
Two contrasting phone calls, just days apart, filled hopes and then dashed Brooke’s dreams.
Brooke’s mother Lynda Keane explains: “That second phone call left me very surprised … only a few days earlier they’d actually asked of Brooke would sign up for another year.
“Then I got the call saying she is to finish up straight away,” Lynda adds, shaking her head in disbelief.
E Street producer Andrew Saw, who made the phone calls to the Keane/Anderson home, denies there were any behind-the-scenes politics involved in the decision.
“We had a lot of trouble finding storylines for her (Brooke) at her age without blowing her up,” he says. “She is fantastic, Lynda and I agreed that the character should be rested for a while.
“She can always come back.”
But as one door closes in the entertainment industry, many others have opened for the young actress.
A guest role in the Seven Network’s prime time drama A Country Practice has also been filmed, and a telemovie role is being negotiated.
Brooke, Lynda and her singer/showman husband Greg Anderson are off to the US in September for a tilt at the big-time.
With all the candor of youth, Brooke tells of her lingering sadness at leaving E Street.
“All my friends were there, and I really loved it,” Brooke says.
“I found out at short notice. The producer Andrew Saw rang Mum and she told me all about it.
“They were going to keep me on but with no storylines then they said they wanted me to go.
“I had this meeting with Forrest Redlich (the executive producer) and he said he was getting some gangsters for the show and didn’t have enough finance to keep me.
“But when Penny Cook (the original Dr Elly Fielding, Clair’s mother) left, Forrest told me he’d never lose me… he loved me.”
The cast and crew of E Street threw a farewell party for their favourite Westsider.
Her screen mother Diane Craig scored a hit by giving the computer game whiz kid yet another discette for her portable Game Boy.
Cecily Polson presented a silver trophy inscribed with the words “…to Brooke “Mikey” Anderson for her abundant talent and dedication, with appreciation and love from your colleagues at E Street”.
But the “coolest” present of the day came from Annie, E Street’s make-up artist. Brooke whooped with delight when she opened the carry bag and discovered its contents to be a collection of all her favourite things – instant tattoos, fake blood, gruesome adhesive scars and bruises!
“I loved it, you know,” says Brooke in all seriousness.
“I’ll miss everyone on E Street, even the crew. People like Tony Martin (The Reverend Bob) taught me how to play darts really well, and now I beat him!
“I’ll miss Claire sort of … she was a bit ‘girly’, but she was cool.
“Making a change is sort of good for me, because I could have stayed there forever.”
Lynda says she was initially fearful of Brooke’s reaction to no longer playing Claire, because the character and show had been part of her life since she was six.
It was never work; just another fun thing to do in an active life crammed with singing, dancing, schoolwork, music lessons and trail-bike riding.
Claire Fielding exits E Street when she pleads to be at the side of her father David (Noel Hodda) when he is badly injured in a car accident in the US.
Elly flies to Boston with Claire at her side. She returns to Westside alone.
Ironically enough, Linda says that Brooke’s happiness in her role at E Street made her loathe to want to uproot her and take her stateside for the September trip.
Greg Anderson will record an album in Nashville, Tennessee, while Lynda and Brooke link up with influential US agent CoLee Viedelle-Smith, whose stable of child and teen stars includes Corey Feldman, Drew Barrymore and Soleil Moon Frye.
It is a 10-week trip that could change the course of all their lives.
“Americans like you to be there and be seen all the time, and we certainly want to check it out a lot more seriously,” Lynda says.
“We could be entreating a period of change, very much so.
“We certainly have to play it by ear, but fate could take a hand.”
And what does Brooke have to say about this heady talk of stardom in the land of her favourite tourist destination – Disneyland?
“Yeah, that’d be cool.”
Original content copyright TV Week.