‘Punky Brewster’ Reboot: How Soleil Moon Frye Is Keeping Henry In the Show – Exclusive

When NBC cancelled Punky Brewster in 1988 I was crushed. I was only 10 but I wrote to NBC begging them to keep it on. Looks like I was patient. 30 years later, classic shows like Full House, Macgyver and 90210 are back. Punky Brewster is coming back on NBC’s streaming service too with Soleil Moon Frye reprising her role as a grown-up.

Soleil Moon Frye as Punky Brewster
Soleil Moon Frye as Punky Brewster | Gary Null/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty Images

Frye stars in the Lifetime Christmas movie Staging Christmas and Showbiz Cheat Sheet got to interview her for it. We’ll have more on Staging Christmas when it premieres November 29 but Frye was happy to talk about the Punky Brewster revival and answer important questions about Henry, Cherie, Margeaux, Brandon and those mismatched socks. 

How the ‘Punky Brewster’ reboot will address Henry

George Gaynes played Henry Warnimont, the man who adopted Punky Brewster. Sadly, Gaynes passed away at the age of 98 in 2016, but Soleil Moon Frye assures fans Punky Brewster won’t forget about him.

“There will be elements of Henry for sure and I know that he is looking down,” Frye said. “I really feel like he and [late NBC executive] Brandon Tartikoff are looking down, so excited and proud.”

Punky Brewster and Henry
George Gaynes and Soleil Moon Frye in Punky Brewster | NBCU Photo Bank

Once the show ended, Frye said she and Gaynes did not keep in touch frequently but she did contact him before he passed.

“Before the end of his life I was able to send a note to him that really just expressed how much he meant to me,” Frye said. “He was such a gift, a gift and a talent and so brilliant so it’s really important to me to carry that on through the show and for it to be real and for us to be able to deal with real things. Everyone, our entire team is really feeling the same way so that’s really special.”

Has Punky’s fashion grown up?

As a kid, Punky Brewster wore mismatched colors, or as everyone called it then, the ‘80s. Soleil Moon Frye said Punky Brewster has outgrown her old fashion.

“Her fashion is a little more grown-up because she was a photojournalist,” Frye said. “So there are some elements that are a little more grown up but she’s still Punky at heart and she’s rediscovering her inner Punky Power. She’ s really coming of age again at a new stage in her life and I can definitely relate to that”

Will Cherie and Margaux be in the new ‘Punky Brewster’?

Punky’s best friends were Cherie (Cherie Johnson) and Margaux (Ami Foster). One of them is definitely back.

“Big news, is Cherie will be playing Punky’s bestie again,” Frye said. 

Punky Brewster cast
(l-r) Cherie Johnson, Ami Foster, Casey Ellison, Soleil Moon Frye | Gary Null/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty Images

That doesn’t rule out Margaux, although Foster has not acted on screen since 1994.

“I don’t know,” Frye said. “Right now we just have the beginning, the first script.”

Brandon the Dog left a legacy too

Punky Brewster had a dog named Brandon. No dog lives for 30 years so neither the real dog, Sandy, nor Punky Brewster’s dog Brandon could still be around in 2019. Punky Brewster will always be a dog person though.

Soleil Moon Frye as Punky Brewster and Sandy as Brandon the Wonder Dog | Gary Null/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty Images

“Well, there may be a dog again,” Frye said. “We’ll see what will happen. It could have a dog there.”

‘Punky Brewster’ will still deal with real issues

Punky Brewster was a comedy, but it was essentially about a homeless girl and the foster system. In the reboot, Punky will meet a girl who reminds her of herself. Soleil Moon Frye wants the new show to take a serious look at modern issues with the heart of Punky Power again.

“The heart of Punky Brewster was dealing with real topics and real things that we all are affected by,” Frye said. “Then this incredible little girl that was facing so many challenges in the face of so much, had this heart of gold. She and Henry really learned so much from each other and gave so much to each other, so our goal is to really bring that through in this show.”