Revered by generations of fans from around the globe, Canada’s red-headed sweetheart, Anne Shirley, returns to television screens this holiday season.
A CTV major television event, the world premiere of ANNE OF GREEN GABLES: A NEW BEGINNING airs Sunday, December 14 from 7-10 p.m. ET on CTV.
Written and directed by the Emmy Award-winning Kevin Sullivan, the force behind the original ANNE OF GREEN GABLES movies, the three-hour telefilm stars screen legend and Oscar, Emmy and Golden Globe Award winner Shirley MacLaine and Oscar Nominee/Emmy and Golden Globe Award winner Barbara Hershey, alongside Canadians Rachel Blanchard and Hannah Endicott-Douglas.
The timely CTV Original Movie honours the 100th anniversary of the publication of Anne of Green Gables.
In addition, CTV and ‘A’ will present a collection of titles from Sullivan Entertainment to complement the premiere of ANNE OF GREEN GABLES: A NEW BEGINNING, including the original three ANNE OF GREEN GABLES mini-series, additional episodes from the Emmy Award-winning series ROAD TO AVONLEA, and more. The complete CTV and ‘A’ 2008 Holiday Programming lineup will be unveiled soon.
Anne Shirley is one of the world’s most heartwarming iconic characters – but what happened before her surprising arrival at Green Gables in Prince Edward Island? This expansive new movie, which is both a prequel and a sequel to the original films, answers that question. Audiences will learn about the foundations of Anne’s childhood that shaped her life and haunted her in later years: the origins of her carpet bag; the source of her expression, “kindred spirits”; the development of her intense imagination as a means of survival; and most profoundly, many of the relationships with adults and peers that structured her character so distinctively, prior to her arrival at Green Gables.
“Based on details from Lucy Maud Montgomery’s own diary and descriptions from the original novel, Kevin Sullivan has fashioned a moving and complex glimpse into the circumstances that created one of the most beloved fictional characters of our time,” said Susanne Boyce, President, Creative, Content and Channels, CTV Inc.
“I wanted to create a film that would offer a rare insight into Anne Shirley’s personality,” said Kevin Sullivan, President, Sullivan Entertainment. “I tried to imagine what Anne would have become if she had grown up to be an author like Montgomery herself; a gifted storyteller who was haunted by her childhood her whole life.”
Produced, written and directed by Sullivan, ANNE OF GREEN GABLES: A NEW BEGINNING is set as the Second World War is winding down. Anne Shirley (played by Barbara Hershey, Beaches, Portrait of a Lady) is now a successful, middle-aged writer who has returned to Prince Edward Island for an extended visit. While writing a play for the summer theatre season, she discovers a long-hidden secret under the floorboards at Green Gables.
As Anne struggles to complete her play, she delves into long-buried and long-forgotten memories, reliving her troubled years before she arrived as an orphan at the Cuthbert farmhouse. Over the course of one remarkable summer, Anne discovers the truth about her parents, the origins of her quest for “kindred spirits” and the genesis of her brilliant, magical imagination.
As the movie flows between present-day discoveries and past memories, Hannah Endicott-Douglas (THE GOOD WITCH, SAMANTHA: AN AMERICAN GIRL HOLIDAY) portrays the young Anne Shirley alongside Rachel Blanchard (Where the Truth Lies, 7TH HEAVEN, CLUELESS) as Louisa Thomas, Shirley MacLaine (In Her Shoes, Terms of Endearment, Bewitched) as Amelia Thomas, and Ron Lea (RACE TO MARS, THIS IS WONDERLAND) as Gene Armstrong.
Casting for the young Anne Shirley involved an expansive search to find an actress who could play the role made famous by Megan Follows. The quest for the ideal actress involved a cross-Canada audition tour and an open casting call on YouTube. More than 1,000 young girls from Canada, the United States, England and Australia auditioned for the coveted role in the film. After three months of searching, 12-year-old Hannah Endicott-Douglas from Toronto was chosen to carry on the legacy of Anne Shirley.
Filmed in studio in Toronto, ON and on location in Dundas, ON, and Rockwood, ON, ANNE OF GREEN GABLES: A NEW BEGINNING recreates, with vivid detail, the setting for Anne Shirley’s tumultuous childhood. The production crew and special effects team were able to re-construct a number of locations made famous in the previous films, including some of the more well-known locations from the original ANNE OF GREEN GABLES trilogy.
ANNE OF GREEN GABLES: A NEW BEGINNING is produced by Sullivan Entertainment in association with CTV. Trudy Grant (BUTTERBOX BABIES, Under the Piano, Sleeping Dogs Lie) is the executive producer of the film. Ray Sager (THE MAGIC FLUTE DIARIES, WIND AT MY BACK, THE ELEVENTH HOUR) is the executive in charge of production and Yuri Yakubiw (1-800-MISSING, SUE THOMAS: F.B. EYE) is the director of photography. Martha Mann (LANTERN HILL, ROAD TO AVONLEA) is the costume designer, and was also the costume designer on the original, multi award-winning ANNE OF GREEN GABLES mini-series.