Breakthrough Entertainment’s Anne to Air on PBS Next November

L.M. Montgomery's Anne of Green GablesThe Hollywood Reporter announced yesterday that PBS has acquired U.S. broadcasting rights to Breakthrough Entertainment’s recent telefilm L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables, featuring Ella Ballentine in the title role, with plans to broadcast the movie on Thanksgiving Day, 24 November 2016.

UPDATE: Breakthrough Entertainment also announced on Twitter over the weekend that the movie is set for theatrical release in Australia and New Zealand!

Latest Scholarship on L.M. Montgomery

A number of new contributions to the field of L.M. Montgomery Studies have appeared over the last few months, in addition to Rita Bode and Lesley D. Clement’s collection of essays L.M. Montgomery’s Rainbow Valleys: The Ontario Years, 1911–1942, and I wanted to take a moment to highlight them.

The Oxford Handbook of Canadian LiteratureThe Oxford Handbook of Canadian Literature, edited by Cynthia Sugars, has just been published by Oxford University Press. Montgomery is mentioned in detail in book chapters on a variety of topics—including disability, women’s writing, children’s literature, gay and lesbian writing, auto/biography, Atlantic Canadian literature, the short story, and post-Confederation nationalism—by Tracy Ware, Carole Gerson, Alexander MacLeod, Tony Tremblay, Julie Rak, Deirdre Baker, Cecily Devereux, Terry Goldie and Lee Frew, and Sally Chivers.

In December 2015, the online journal The Looking Glass: New Perspectives on Children’s Literature published a special issue on L.M. Montgomery. It includes paratexts by Caroline Jones and Carolyn Strom Collins as well as articles by Yoshiko Akamatsu, Vappu Kannas, Lauren Makrancy, Laura Leden, and Shea Keats.

In addition, several more journal articles have appeared elsewhere in the last few months, by Sarah Galletly (in British Journal of Canadian Studies), Carol L. Beran (in American Review of Canadian Studies), Gabrielle Owen (in Jeunesse: Young People, Texts, Cultures), and Kelly Blewett (in The Lion and the Unicorn).

Also in December 2015, Vappu Kannas successfully defended her Ph.D. dissertation at the University of Helsinki in Finland. Entitled “‘The Forlorn Heroine of a Terribly Sad Life Story’: Romance in the Journals of L.M. Montgomery,” the dissertation is available for download. Congratulations, Dr. Kannas!

And just yesterday, the L.M. Montgomery Literary Society published the 2015 issue of its newsletter, The Shining Scroll. This issue is filled with fascinating articles and news by Mary Beth Cavert, Carolyn Strom Collins, Christy Woster, Gwen Layton, and Linda Boutilier.

Happy reading!

L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables in the News

L.M. Montgomery's Anne of Green GablesBreakthrough Entertainment’s new telefilm L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables, which airs tonight on YTV, has received a tremendous amount of coverage in the press. Here are a few highlights:

Have I missed anything? Let me know!

Plans to broadcast the movie outside Canada or to release it on DVD have not yet been announced.

UPDATE: “Young Actress ‘Excited’ to Play Anne of Green Gables in New TV Movie” (CBC News)

Montgomery Reader Wins 2016 PROSE Award for Literature

I’m enormously pleased to announce that my three-volume critical anthology The L.M. Montgomery Reader (University of Toronto Press) has won the 2016 PROSE Award for Literature, an award presented by the Professional and Scholarly Publishing Division of the Association of American Publishers.

New Trailer and YTV Broadcast Time for L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables

A press release circulated on CNW: A PR Newswire Company confirms that the world premiere of Breakthrough Entertainment’s telefilm L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables will be on YTV on Monday, 15 February 2016 from 6:00 to 8:00 PM EST. Also published today is a slightly extended trailer for the telefilm, which stars Ella Ballentine as Anne, Sara Botsford as Marilla, and Martin Sheen as Matthew.

Video: L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables premiering Monday, February 15 at 6 p.m. ET/PT on YTV.

Breakthrough’s Anne to Air on 15 February 2016

Poster for L.M. Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables, produced by Breakthrough Entertainment
Poster for L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables, produced by Breakthrough Entertainment

An article in the Charlottetown Guardian announced today that Breakthrough Entertainment’s telefilm L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables will premiere on the YTV network in Canada on 15 February 2015, to coincide with Islander Day in Prince Edward Island. No news yet on broadcast details outside Canada or plans for a DVD release.

This news coincides with the announcement that the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation has ordered an eight-episode series based on Anne of Green Gables from writer/producer Moira Walley-Beckett—an announcement that has prompted a wide range of responses from commentators. Also published today is an interview with Miranda de Pencier, who is one of Walley-Beckett’s collaborators on the project and who played Josie Pye in three Anne of Green Gables television miniseries from Sullivan Entertainment: in her view, given how highly popular remakes are in Britain, there is definitely room for an ongoing Anne of Green Gables series alongside existing adaptations of the book for stage and screen: “They can all exist alongside one another.”

To see the trailer for Breakthrough’s highly anticipated telefilm, visit the website for Breakthrough Entertainment.

Responses to New Anne Television Series

Anne of Green Gables Meets Breaking Bad?
Anne of Green Gables Meets Breaking Bad? Source: Unknown.

As I reported yesterday, news broke this week that the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation had ordered an eight-episode limited series based on L.M. Montgomery’s novel Anne of Green Gables from producer Moira Walley-Beckett, whose past writing credits include the television series Breaking Bad. The news received rather mixed comments, judging by the comments left on various news sites and even on the Facebook page for L.M. Montgomery Online: for some commentators, Sullivan Entertainment’s 1985 miniseries is of such high quality that any attempt to remake it is pointless (for several fans, no one but Megan Follows can ever play Anne), whereas others voiced concern about the decision to hire Walley-Beckett to helm the project, given not only her past writing credits but also the statement that the series would “chart new territory” by depicting “new adventures reflecting timeless issues, including themes of identity, sexism, bullying, prejudice, and trusting one’s self.”

In the midst of this mixed reaction, several additional articles were released in the last few days, emphasizing why a new take on L.M. Montgomery’s 108-year-old novel is not only understandable but absolutely necessary:

As for me, I’m thrilled that a talented writer/producer wants to interpret Montgomery’s best-known novel and ever-appealing protagonist for the twenty-first century, just as I am always fascinated by adaptations of Anne of Green Gables and its sequels for stage and screen, from a 1934 Hollywood “talkie” and Kevin Sullivan’s work to the recent hit play Anne and Gilbert and Breakthrough Entertainment’s upcoming telefilm. Given how meaningful the character Anne Shirley is to so many readers worldwide, surely there is room for a new take on this ever-popular character.

New Anne Television Series Greenlit by CBC

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation announced yesterday that it had greenlit a new, eight-episode television series based on Anne of Green Gables. Entitled Anne, the project is expected to go into production this spring for release sometime in 2017. The project will be created and written by Moira Walley-Beckett, who received an Emmy Award for her work as a writer on the television series Breaking Bad and who will serve as executive producer alongside Miranda de Pencier, Alison Owen, and Debra Hayward.

At its heart, ANNE is a coming-of-age story about an outsider who, against all odds and numerous challenges, fights for acceptance, for her place in the world and for love. The drama series centres on a young orphaned girl who, after an abusive childhood spent in orphanages and the homes of strangers, is mistakenly sent to live with an elderly spinster and her aging brother. Over time, 13-year-old Anne will transform their lives and eventually the small town in which they live, with her unique spirit, fierce intellect and brilliant imagination. While the new series will follow a similar storyline to the book that millions of readers around the world know and love, it will also chart new territory. Anne and the rest of the characters in and around Green Gables will experience new adventures reflecting timeless issues, including themes of identity, sexism, bullying, prejudice, and trusting one’s self.

This story has been reported widely, in venues including The Hollywood Reporter, The Toronto StarVariety, Entertainment Weekly, Entertainment Tonight Canada, The Guardian, the National PostQuill and Quire, and Jezebel. The satiric website The Beaverton has also commented on this development, in a news story entitled “CBC Courts Younger Viewers with Another Reboot of 100 Year Old Novel”:

“Kids these days are done with stories where things happen,” said CBC consultant and world’s oldest child psychologist Obadiah Sugarman. “We’ll finally be giving them the stiff Victorian morality that I assume is in vogue. Not to mention, doing a period piece is a great way to make sure white people are adequately represented on television.”

“I can’t wait for yet more Anne,” enthused 22 year-old Alexandra Lewis, who has only been alive for 7 of Anne’s over two dozen adaptations. “Honestly there’s no better use of public funds than promoting the work of a long-dead, already immensely popular author.”

Jokes aside, what few if any of these reports has mentioned is that a new telefilm version of Anne of Green Gables by Toronto company Breakthrough Productions is already in post-production and is expected to air on YTV in the months to come, or that a film version of Anne of Green Gables: The Musical was announced as in development in September 2013. And what none of the sites reporting on this story has noted, as far as I know, is that producer Miranda de Pencier portrayed Josie Pye in three Anne of Green Gables miniseries by Sullivan Entertainment.

Anne of Gif Gables on CBC Website

In light of the thirtieth anniversary of Sullivan Entertainment’s first Anne of Green Gables miniseries (its world premiere on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation was on 1–2 December 1985), the CBC website has published a segment entitled “Anne of Gif Gables.” It contains links to rare interviews on CBC Digital Archives.

The L.M. Montgomery Reader: Three-Volume Set

The L.M. Montgomery Reader, Volumes 1–3, edited by Benjamin Lefebvre
The L.M. Montgomery Reader, Volumes 1–3, edited by Benjamin Lefebvre

I’m pleased to announce that all three volumes of my critical anthology The L.M. Montgomery Reader are now available as a hardcover set from University of Toronto Press!

A tremendous resource for fans and scholars alike, the three-volume The L.M. Montgomery Reader gathers together a captivating selection of material, much of it recently rediscovered, on the life, work, and critical reception of one of Canada’s most enduringly popular authors.

Collecting material on Montgomery’s life (Volume One), her critical reputation (Volume Two), and reviews of her books (Volume Three), leading Montgomery scholar Benjamin Lefebvre traces the interplay between the author and the critic, as well as between the private and the public Montgomery. Each volume includes an extensive introduction and detailed commentary on the documents that provides the context for these primary sources, many of them freshly unearthed from archives and digital collections and never before published in book form.

These volumes have received tremendous praise from reviewers:

“While Lefebvre’s The L.M. Montgomery Reader is a vital resource of primary sources from and secondary assessments of one of Canada’s most popular twentieth-century authors, it is his insightful and knowledgeable analysis that shapes and gives meaning to the collection. . . . The depth of his knowledge results in a work that is as comprehensible as it is comprehensive.” –André Narbonne, American Review of Canadian Studies

“Lefebvre’s archival research is thorough and often brilliant, making the Reader an invaluable trove not only for Montgomery scholars but also for those working with the reception history of Canadian writers, especially women before Laurence, Munro, and Atwood. For Montgomery completists, the Reader is irresistible. For those engaged in Montgomery studies or Canadian literature more generally, it is invaluable.” –Anne Furlong, University of Toronto Quarterly

“With this volume, Lefebvre broadens our understanding of Montgomery’s reception and reputation both within Canada and internationally, unearthing previously obscure content and commentary and making it accessible to a far wider audience. This reader will thus prove a valuable resource to both existing and future scholars of Montgomery’s work and life, as well as those fans keen for a little more insight into the ever-elusive figure of L.M. Montgomery.” –Sarah Galletly, British Journal of Canadian Studies

“Lefebvre has uncovered a cache of new, important material in an already impressive and crowded field of Montgomery scholarship. . . . His sensitive editing of the material brings the public side of Montgomery into better focus as she fields endless questions about how she became a writer, how Anne came to be and whether or not she was a real girl and what the author thought of young women in her day. [This book will] deepen our knowledge and understanding of this beloved Canadian icon.” –Laurie Glenn Norris,Telegraph–Journal (Saint John, NB)

“Lefebvre has thoroughly mined earlier scholars’ bibliographies and online newspaper archives to find reviews in periodicals from eight different countries, including the Bookman (London), the Globe (Toronto) and Vogue (New York). . . . Collectively, these reviews . . . represent a superb barometer of [Montgomery’s] fluctuating cultural value as a writer.” –Irene Gammel, The Times Literary Supplement

The three-volume set as well as individual volumes can be obtained directly from University of Toronto Press or from your local bookseller.