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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.

Movie Poster for L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables

L.M. Montgomery's Anne of Green GablesThis movie poster for Breakthrough Entertainment’s upcoming telefilm L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables was released this week via Twitter by “Anne” herself, Ella Ballentine! No news yet on a broadcast date on YTV (or outside Canada), but the fact that it appears with the subtitle “Holiday Special” indicates that it may be released by the end of 2015.

First Trailer for L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables

A first trailer for Breakthrough Entertainment’s upcoming telefilm L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables has been added to its corporate website. The ninety-minute telefilm stars Ella Ballentine as Anne, Sara Botsford as Marilla, and Martin Sheen as Matthew. Stay tuned for information about its release in Canada and around the world!

New Cast Details for Anne of Green Gables Telefilm

A recent listing on the Internet Movie Database provides new information about some of the actors who will appear in Breakthrough Entertainment’s upcoming telefilm Lucy Maud Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables, which is scheduled to debut on YTV in Canada early in 2016. The following links are to the actors’ IMDB profiles.

Martin Sheen as Matthew Cuthbert
Linda Kash as Mrs. Barry
Sara Botsford as Marilla Cuthbert
Ella Ballentine as Anne Shirley
Julia Lalonde as Diana Barry
Zoe Fraser as Ruby Gillis
Kyle Gatehouse as Mr. Phillips
Stefani Kimber as Josie Pye
Drew Haytaoglu Gilbert Blythe
Kate Hennig as Rachel Lynde
Isabella Ricker as Prissy Andrews

More information will be posted about this production as soon as it is released, so subscribe to the blog to get all the details!

Anne of Green Gables Movie in Production at Breakthrough Entertainment

Major news has been released concerning Breakthrough Entertainment’s upcoming movie Lucy Maud Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables. According to a press release dated today, the production will air on Corus Entertainment–owned YTV early in 2016 and will star thirteen-year-old Ella Ballentine as Anne Shirley. More news will be posted here as it becomes available.

Ella Ballentine and Kate Macdonald Butler on the set of Breakthrough Entertainment’s upcoming movie Lucy Maud Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables. Photo by Steve Wilkie.

Major Update: Anne of Green Gables Adaptation by Breakthrough Entertainment

A few weeks ago, Toronto production company Breakthrough Entertainment added to its website a page for its upcoming adaptation of Anne of Green Gables. Initially announced as a thirteen-episode series, this ninety-minute telefilm will be directed by John Kent Harrison from a script by Susan Coyne:

Based on the globally beloved classic children’s novel that was first published in 1908 by Lucy Maud Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables is the story of a fiercely imaginative little girl who, with her irrepressible spirit, touches the lives of everyone that she meets. In particular, it is the story of Anne’s stormy relationship with the strait-laced Marilla Cuthbert who discovers through Anne a capacity for love that she never knew she had.

Details about casting, filming locations, and possible release dates are not yet available but will be posted here once they are confirmed.

Feature Film Version of Anne of Green Gables: The Musical in the Works

Yesterday, an article in Variety reported that an announcement had been made at the Toronto Film Festival concerning a planned a feature film version of the popular Anne of Green Gables: The Musical. Additional coverage has appeared in The Toronto Star and on Jezebel.

UPDATE: According to this story on the CBC news website, this project will be filmed in Prince Edward Island!

Announcing a New Television Adaptation of Anne of Green Gables

Breakthrough Entertainment has issued a press release announcing plans for an all-new, thirteen-episode television series based on L.M. Montgomery’s novel Anne of Green Gables:

Leading Canadian production-distribution studio Breakthrough Entertainment and the heirs of beloved Canadian author Lucy Maud Montgomery have joined forces to develop and produce a 13-episode series for television based on one of Canada—and the world’s—most celebrated and eternal book series, Anne of Green Gables. Announcement of the all-new Anne of Green Gables television series was made jointly at the Banff World Media Festival by Breakthrough Entertainment principals Ira Levy and Peter Williamson, and Executive Producer Joan Lambur and Kate Macdonald Butler, granddaughter of author Lucy Maud Montgomery.

Set for production in 2013 in the Canadian Maritimes, Breakthrough Entertainment’s Anne of Green Gables will be a contemporary retelling of the famed book series while capturing author Lucy Maud Montgomery’s original vision for her characters and stories.

First published in 1908, Anne of Green Gables remains an iconic work selling more than 50 million copies worldwide.  The eight classic Anne of Green Gables novels have attracted generations of readers inspired by the adventures of the spirited redhead Anne Shirley, who comes to stay at Green Gables and wins the hearts of everyone she meets.

For more on this contemporary retelling of Anne of Green Gables, see the article at The Hollywood Reporter.

Jackie Burroughs (1939–2010)

I’m very sorry to report that Jackie Burroughs, a renowned and acclaimed film, television, and theatre actor who is best known in the Montgomery community for playing Hetty King in the television series Road to Avonlea and Mrs. Amelia Evans in the 1985 miniseries version of Anne of Green Gables, died this afternoon at the age of 71. For more details on her life and her work, see tributes to her on the Globe and Mail and CBC websites.

Emily of New Moon Complete Fourth Season, Complete Series

More Emily of New Moon DVD news! According to a post on, Emily of New Moon: The Complete Fourth Season will be released on DVD in Canada on 20 July 2010! In the United States, Echo Bridge Home Entertainment will continue with The Complete Third Season, The Complete Fourth Season, and The Complete Series, all available on 1 June.

I frequently get messages from people asking when the rest of the series will be released on DVD, so I’m happy to spread the word, especially since the latter two seasons of Emily of New Moon aired sporadically on the CBC more than three years (2002-2003) after the first two seasons (1998-1999) did.

Emily of New Moon Cover Art, Plus Season Three

As a follow-up to my earlier post about this spring’s re-release of the first two seasons of the television series Emily of New Moon, I’m pleased to spread the news that the cover art for both seasons has been revealed and that the third season will be released on DVD on 22 June 2010. No news yet on the abbreviated fourth season of the series, but at this rate hopefully we will see that DVD set as well later this summer.

For the cover art, see the news item on

Seasons One and Two of Emily of New Moon Re-Released on DVD This Spring!

Although the first two seasons of the television series Emily of New Moon were released on DVD by Echo Bridge Home Entertainment (season one in September 2008, season two in December 2009), these two seasons will be rereleased on DVD by Alliance Home Entertainment: season one on 20 April 2010, season two on 18 May 2010. Here’s hoping that the remaining two seasons will follow soon!

See the item for this at

Emily of New Moon: The Complete Second Season Coming to DVD

Emily of New Moon: The Complete Second Season (DVD)The second season of the television series Emily of New Moon will be released on DVD by Echo Bridge Home Entertainment on 29 December 2009! These thirteen episodes first aired on CBC more than ten years ago, from October 1998 to January 1999, and were filmed entirely on Prince Edward Island.

Included in the DVD set are all second-season episodes:

See also the listing at Echo Bridge Home Entertainment’s website.

Road to Avonlea DVDs in High Definition

Sullivan Entertainment has announced that the first two seasons of Road to Avonlea will be available in restored, high-definition DVD sets on 20 October 2009. For more details, see the pre-order pages for Road to Avonlea: The Complete First Season / Les Contes d’Avonlea: L’intégrale de la première saison and Road to Avonlea: The Complete Second Season / Les Contes d’Avonlea: L’intégrale de la deuxième saison.

Website for Before Green Gables Anime

There is a new website for the Anime version of Before Green Gables, which has been airing on Japanese television as Konnichiwa Anne since April 2009. The series is directed by Katsuyoshi Yatabe and is produced by Nippon Animation, which produced the 1979 Akage no An anime. See also the entry on Konnichiwa Anne on the Anime News Network. Thanks to Yuka for bringing this to my attention.

A New Beginning Nominated for Awards

The Sullivan Entertainment telefilm Anne of Green Gables: A New Beginning has been nominated for two Director’s Guild of Canada awards, one for Best Television Movie/Miniseries and one for Ray Lorenz for Best Production Design in a Television Movie/Miniseries. The results will be known at the awards gala on 24 October 2009.

In addition, the telefilm was nominated for three Gemini Awards: for Best Costume Design (Martha Mann), Best Achievement in Make-Up (Lynda McCormack and Madeleine Russell) and Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Supporting Role in a Dramatic Program or Miniseries (Barbara Hershey). For more information, visit the website for the 24th Annual Gemini Awards.

CTV Airdate for Anne of Green Gables: A New Beginning

Sullivan Entertainment has announced on its Anne of Green Gables website that its latest film, Anne of Green Gables: A New Beginning, will air on CTV on 14 December 2008, at 7:00 PM. They include a detailed synopsis:

It is 1945 and Anne Shirley (Academy-award nominee and Golden Globe winner, Barbara Hershey) now a successful, middle-aged writer has returned to Prince Edward Island for an extended visit. On a whim, she agrees to write a play for a theatre producer. The play, she reasons, will keep her busy—at least busy enough to not go out of her mind with worry about her only son who has yet to return from the war overseas. But a long-hidden secret in the form of a letter from her errant father, discovered under the floorboards at Green Gables, provides a distraction of its own. As Anne struggles to complete the play, she delves into long-buried memories, reliving the troubled years before she arrived as an orphan at the Green Gables farmhouse. She is forced to confront the fact that she made up stories about her life; after her mother died and when her father deserted his young daughter. During that time, Young Anne (newcomer Hannah Endicott-Douglas), is taken into the care of a wealthy matriarch, Amelia Thomas (Academy-award winner Shirley MacLaine) and her daughter-in-law, Louisa (Rachel Blanchard), which changes her life forever.

Over the course of one remarkable summer, Anne Shirley discovers the astonishing truth about her father, the origins of her quest for “kindred spirits” and the roots of her brilliant, magical imagination.

A new trailer for the telefilm is now available at Sullivan’s Anne of Green Gables website. While there is not yet any news about broadcast dates outside of Canada, they have also announced that the film will be released on DVD shortly.

A New Beginning to Premiere at Boston Film Festival

Kevin Sullivan’s upcoming film Anne of Green Gables: A New Beginning will have its world premiere at the 2008 Boston Film Festival on Monday, 15 September 2008, at 8:15 PM. The synopsis on their schedule reads as follows:

Kevin Sullivan’s original story explores the unwritten origins of the iconic character, Anne of Green Gables, as Anne finds a secret letter in the floorboards of Green Gables, almost 50 years after she arrived on Prince Edward Island, that reveals her troubled family history.

The 141-minute film, which stars Barbara Hershey, Hannah Endicott-Douglas, Rachel Blanchard, and Shirley MacLaine, will air on CTV this fall. A broadcast date has not been announced, nor has plans to broadcast the film outside Canada, but it will eventually be available on DVD. A novelization of the film will be published by Key Porter Books on 1 October 2008.

Emily of New Moon Coming to DVD!

Echo Bridge Home Entertainment will be releasing Emily of New Moon: The Complete First Season on 9 September 2008! The first season of Emily of New Moon contains thirteen episodes that originally aired on CBC Television between January and April 1998. The cast includes Susan Clark as Aunt Elizabeth, Stephen McHattie as Cousin Jimmy, Martha MacIsaac as Emily, Sheila McCarthy as Aunt Laura, Kris Lemche as Perry Miller, Jessica Pellerin as Ilse, Shawn Roberts as Teddy Kent, and Richard Donat as Dr. Burnley. Guest stars include Michael Moriarty, Claire Rankin, Tom McCamus, Maury Chaykin, Leni Parker, Normand Bissonnette, Peter Donaldson, Jacqueline MacKenzie, Liisa Repo Martell, Chip Chuipka, Joan Orenstein, and Phyllis Diller. The first season contains the following episodes:

The DVD set can be pre-ordered at a 30% discount through

Six Books from Sullivan Entertainment

In anticipation of the CTV broadcast of Anne of Green Gables: A New Beginning (an exact date has not yet been released), Sullivan Entertainment will release six books in September and October. A novelization of the new movie, written by Kevin Sullivan, will be published by Key Porter Books on 1 October ( listing here). Also on that day, they are publishing through Davenport Press reissues of Montgomery’s novels Anne of Green Gables, Anne of Avonlea, and Anne of the Island; an audio CD of Anne of Green Gables, read by Kevin Sullivan; and a new novelization of their first Anne of Green Gables miniseries.

Sullivan Entertainment has also released new trailers of the New Beginning movie, both of which imply that Anne wasn’t really an orphan after all. View them at their official website.

Anne in Japan

Symian Days has posted two blog posts on Anne of Green Gables in Japan: “Little ‘Red Hair Anne’” and “‘Red Hair Anne’ Strikes Again.” Thanks to Yuka for sending these my way.

Also, I have read reports that the 1979 animation Akage no An, which to the best of my knowledge has never been dubbed into English (correct me if I’m wrong), will be or has been released on DVD in French. I will post again once I receive confirmation and all the ordering details.