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'Mad About' a Girl From Aliso Viejo

Television: Two months after her world debut, Brooke Taylor hits network prime-time as Baby Buchman.

September 22, 1997|CATHY WERBLIN | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Brooke Taylor is remarkably calm about her role as one of television's most anticipated new characters.

In fact, the little brunet is more interested in her petite fist, it seems, than her Tuesday night in the spotlight as Helen Hunt and Paul Reiser's new baby.

Known in the industry as the "Mad About You Baby," Brooke, now nearly 2 months old, was plucked from the relative obscurity of her Aliso Viejo bassinet when she was chosen over dozens of equally cute and cuddly newborns to star as TV couple Jamie and Paul Buchman's infant daughter.

Brooke had to wait until she was 15 days old before she could legally become a working member of the Screen Actors Guild and launch her acting career. Under federal laws, infants must be a day past 2 weeks old before they can receive a work permit and begin filming.

First-time mom Julie Taylor, 28, a sales manager who describes herself as hyperactive, said that after 10 days at home with the newborn Brooke she was in serious need of a change of scenery. A magazine advertisement she had clipped during her pregnancy spurred Taylor into calling talent scout Jean DeVillier of DeVillier's Baby Talent Network in Newport Beach and San Juan Capistrano.

"I thought my baby was the cutest in the world," Taylor said. (Her previous TV experience: She once "sat on the couch next to Chuck Woolery" for an appearance on the television dating program "Love Connection.")

Within a day of Taylor's call to the agency, Brooke was on her way to stardom. Instructed only to dress her infant like a newborn baby, Taylor drove Brooke to Culver Studios in Culver City for a casting call. "I was still recovering from a C-section and getting used to being a new mom. Here I was driving to L.A.," she said.

On a couch with about 20 other babies, all of whom had been called back from an initial pool of hundreds, Taylor said she realized what a longshot it would be for her child to get the part. As she was leaving, she was asked to wait, then informed that Brooke was one of about 10 chosen to be on the set.

Then Brooke took matters into her own hands. Her hatred of swaddling and her flailing arms and legs landed her the much-coveted nursery scene--when new parents Jamie and Paul locate their newborn from the others in plastic bassinets. She is also the infant used for the family's first night home--a scene that took just one take to film.

Taylor and her husband, Brad, said they were impressed by how much care and attention studios give their television babies. Newborns can only work in 20-minute stints and can be on the set for only 2 1/2 hours daily. The Taylors added that despite their excitement, it was somewhat disconcerting to see their infant fussed over by her fictional parents and grandparents on the set.

Casting agent DeVillier said that while competition can be fierce, there are opportunities for newborns in Hollywood. "We don't have enough in stock because they only stay newborns until they're about 10 pounds," DeVillier said.

Taylor said she is hopeful Brooke will be called back to continue playing Baby Buchman but so far hasn't been.

Meanwhile, Brooke is shining in her other role: Baby Taylor.

* The show will premiere Tuesday on KNBC-TV Channel 4 at 8 p.m.

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