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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 (Amazon.ca 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.
Following its acquisition of the entire Sullivan/Montgomery catalog, CTV will be rebroadcasting An Avonlea Christmas, which first appeared in 1998 as Happy Christmas Miss King, on Sunday, December 16. This two-hour telefilm depicts the events of the King family two-and-a-half years after the final episode of Road to Avonlea.
From the Toronto Star:
Actress Shirley MacLaine has joined the cast of the Anne of Green Gables television movie.
CTV says the Academy-award winner will play matriarch Amelia Thomas in the film, “Anne of Green Gables: A New Beginning.”
MacLaine begins filming this week in southwestern Ontario and shoots through the end of the month.
The “Terms of Endearment” star joins U.S. actress Barbara Hershey, who plays the grown-up Anne Shirley, and Hannah Endicott-Douglas, who plays the young Anne Shirley.
The movie, a prequel to the original miniseries “Anne of Green Gables,” is set to air on CTV in 2008.
CTV says MacLaine’s character pops up in Lucy Maud Montgomery’s first novel but has been shaped into a principal character for the film.
Thomas is a wealthy, powerful and unlikable widow who runs the prosperous lumber town, Marysville, N.B.
After taking in her daughter-in-law Louisa Thomas, played by Rachel Blanchard, Amelia’s miserable temperament is transformed for the better by imaginative and playful Anne Shirley.
See also Canoe’s article on this casting addition.
The following article was published a few days ago on CTV.ca:
New ‘Anne of Green Gables’ coming to CTV
Updated Tue. Oct. 16 2007 10:27 AM ET
The perennially freckled and red-haired Anne Shirley will return to television in 2008, with a new three-hour movie set to debut on CTV.
Actor Hannah Endicott-Douglas is shown in a handout photo. (CTV)
“To say that we are excited about bringing the Anne of Green Gables franchise to CTV would be an understatement!” said Kevin Sullivan, president of Sullivan Entertainment.
“Ivan Fecan and I created the “Avonlea/Family Hour” franchise on CBC in the early 90s and together we made it into one of Canada’s most successful weekly television events.”
In addition to the film, CTV has acquired the entire “Anne” catalogue, including the original 1985 mini-series.
The movie is a prequel to the “Anne of Green Gables” series, entitled “Anne of Green Gables: A New Beginning.”
Picked from over 1,000 hopefuls, Toronto native Hannah Endicott-Douglas will play the new Anne.
The search for the star included an open casting call on YouTube and a cross-Canada audition tour that lasted for three months. Sullivan, an award winning filmmaker, personally selected the winner.
Endicott-Douglas has also appeared in “The Good Witch” and “Samantha: An American Girl.”
Academy Award nominee Barbara Hershey will also appear in the film as Anne later in life, in her 50s. Rachel Blanchard also stars as Louise.
Sullivan has written a completely new screenplay for the three hour movie, which follows Anne’s life before arriving at Green Gables. Sullivan is also directing and executive producing the feature.
“Anne of Green Gables is an enduring and endearing worldwide franchise,” said Susanne Boyce, President, Creative, Content and Channels, CTV Inc.
“We welcome Anne with great respect and look forward to the world premiere of ‘A New Beginning’ on CTV.”
CTV’s acquisition includes:
- Anne of Green Gables: A New Beginning (TV Movie, three hours)
- Anne of Green Gables; Anne of Green Gables: The Sequel; Anne of Green Gables: The Continuing Story (Mini-Series; 13 hours)
- Road to Avonlea (TV Series; 91 hours)
- Road to Avonlea Christmas (TV Movie; two hours)
- Anne of Green Gables: The Animated Series (TV Series; 13 hours)
- Anne, Journey to Green Gables (Animated Feature, two hours)
- The Magic Flute Diaries (Feature, two hours)
- Mozart Decoded: The Magic Flute Diaries Documentary (Documentary, 1 hour)
- Anne Trilogy Documentary (Documentary, 1 hour)
“Anne of Green Gables” and “Road to Avonlea” have been broadcast in over 140 countries around the world and have won numerous awards including four Emmys, the George Foster Peabody Award, CableAce Awards and numerous Gemini’s.
“Anne of Green Gables: The Sequel” originally aired in 1987 and has remained the highest rated mini-series ever to air in Canada with an audience of 5.4 million.
Also, the following article appeared in the Saskatoon Star Phoenix:
Three-month search yields new Anne of Green Gables
Maria Kubacki, CanWest News Service
Published: Wednesday, October 17, 2007
Her red hair may come from a bottle but Hannah Endicott-Douglas is a natural for her new role as Anne Shirley.
The 12-year-old blonde actress from Toronto has been chosen to play one of Canada’s most beloved cultural icons in a prequel to the original Anne of Green Gables mini-series starring Megan Follows. It’s a series she is intimately familiar with, having played out scenes from it with her older sister, Vivien, since she was a toddler.
“I’m a very big Anne fan. I have been for a very long time,” said Hannah in a telephone interview from her home in Toronto on the eve of her first day of shooting.
It was Vivien who usually played Anne, while Hannah portrayed the supporting characters.
Now it’s Hannah’s turn to be Anne, and 16-year-old Vivien will play Violetta, a character at odds with Anne in the beginning.
Hannah has read L.M. Montgomery’s classic novel and says what she likes about Canada’s favourite fictional orphan is “her way to look on the bright side, her imagination and her fiery temper.”
The Grade 8 student, who dyed her hair for the role, was crowned the new Anne after a three-month search by Sullivan Entertainment, which included an open casting call on YouTube, a cross-Canada audition tour and nearly 1,000 audition submissions from Canada, the U.S., England and Australia.
“She was the one who had the shine,” said writer/producer/director Kevin Sullivan, the man behind the original series. “She’s spunky, she’s got a tender heart,” said Sullivan in a telephone interview.
But Hannah—whose previous television credits include The Good Witch and Samantha: An American Girl Holiday—also had a quality Sullivan saw in Follows, and in the young Sarah Polley (who starred in another Sullivan Entertainment series, Road to Avonlea). “This kid is a pro,” he said.
Anne of Green Gables: A New Beginning is based on an original screenplay by Sullivan and focuses on Anne’s life before she came to Green Gables. The screenplay draws on elements in Montgomery’s novel but Sullivan admits he had to make a lot of it up. “It’s a three-hour movie.”
Hannah plays the young orphan, and Emmy and Golden-Globe winning actress Barbara Hershey (The Portrait of a Lady, Hannah and Her Sisters) portrays a 50-something Anne looking back on her life.
Rachel Blanchard (7th Heaven, Clueless) plays Louisa Thomas, a character mentioned in Montgomery’s novel; additional casting will be announced soon.
Production has begun and the movie will premiere on CTV in 2008 in time for the 100th anniversary of the publication of Montgomery’s novel.
According to the website The Casting Workbook, Hannah Endicott-Douglas has been cast as Anne Shirley in Sullivan Entertainment’s Anne of Green Gables: A New Beginning. Endicott-Douglas has appeared in Samantha: An American Girl Holiday (2004).
Also, the Ontario District Council offers a production summary for the telefilm, listing some of the key crew members for the production. [Update: This web page is no longer online.]
We will post more information about this film once it becomes available.
This is from the Edmonton Journal:
Green Gables creators search for Anne
Elizabeth Withey, edmontonjournal.com
Published: Wednesday, July 25
EDMONTON—The creators of award-winning mini-series Anne of Green Gables are in Edmonton today on their nation-wide talent search for a girl to play the fiery red-haired orphan in a prequel.
Filmmaker Kevin Sullivan wrote original story about Anne Shirley’s childhood life before she went to live with the Cuthberts on Prince Edward Island. Sullivan’s story predates the events in Canadian author Lucy Maud Montgomery’s novel.
Anne of Green Gables: A New Beginning will tell the story of Anne’s biological family and how she ended up in an orphanage.
The mystery will unfold when Anne finds a secret letter in the floorboards at Green Gables more than 50 years after she went to live there.
The film is set at the turn of the 20th century but is bookended by scenes of Anne as a woman in her sixties. In the story, her husband Gilbert died at the end of World War Two and her three children are far away, pre-occupied with families of their own. Anne has almost completely lost touch with her adopted son, Dominic, who is living in France.
Sullivan Entertainment will travel to seven Canadian cities to conduct auditions for girl between the ages of 10 to 12.
They are also conducting an extensive casting call on YouTube at www.youtube.com/group/screentest.
Anne of Green Gables (1985) won an Emmy and starred Megan Follows and Colleen Dewhurst. After the mini-series was broadcast, tourism on P.E.I. rose by 30 per cent.
Sullivan Entertainment has issued a press release announcing that Kevin Sullivan will write, produce, and direct Anne of Green Gables: A New Beginning, a prequel to their 1985 miniseries. They are launching a search for a new actor to play Anne. The project should be released sometime in 2008. To find out more, visit http://www.sullivanmovies.com/.
It’s not clear whether the movie or miniseries will coincide with the *other* Anne prequel, written by Budge Wilson and scheduled for publication next March by Penguin Canada.