Tag Archives: Anne of Green Gables

Moira Walley-Beckett looks for Canada’s next Anne of Green Gables

Anne of Green Gables may have been set in the 1900s, but she’s as popular as ever today. Want proof? How about the hundreds of girls who devoted sunny Saturday, May 7, to audition for the lead role in CBC’s upcoming eight-part first season of Anne?

Some wore costumes to look like Anne Shirley, a few even had red hair, most had their tresses done up to look like the energetic star of Lucy Maud Montgomery’s novels. Prepped with two scenes to perform, the girls—who convened in a multi-use building in east Toronto—were auditioning for Moira Walley-Beckett (Breaking Bad), Anne‘s writer and executive producer, who’d flown in from Nunavut for the first stop in the cross-Canada audition tour. (The remaining dates on the tour are Charlottetown on May 28th and Halifax on May 29 and May 30; go to theannesearch.com for more details.)

We spoke to Walley-Beckett about what she’s looking for in a leading lady, what Season 1 of Anne will be about, and returning to her native Canada to film a TV show.

This is an iconic character in Canada and around the world. Are you feeling pressure, especially since the 1985 miniseries is so beloved?
Moira Walley-Beckett: I hope to meet those expectations and exceed them. If there wasn’t more to explore, I wouldn’t be doing it. Anne is a story that I cherish—I grew up with Anne—and there is The Annotated Anne of Green Gables which is a tome, a hardback book where they go through, page by page with footnotes, what everything refers to. It’s my bible. I want to honour the material and I feel an enormous amount of responsibility and pressure to do it right and to serve it.

I’m also really excited to explore some uncharted territory within the story by opening up what’s between the lines and exploring what’s intimated at a lot of times but isn’t actually on the page. Lucy Maud is an interesting writer. She writes glorious prose and vivid characters that leap off the page, but a lot of the things that happen in television don’t happen in the book. For example: Anne’s first day of school. In the book, we don’t go there; she just comes home and tells Marilla about it. I want to go to school. I want to be there. I want to see how she deals with all of these children the very first time and what they think of this stranger in town. That’s the stuff that gets me jazzed.

It’s my plan to make it feel relatable and fresh and when somebody sits down to watch it they say, ‘Oh my God, that happened to me today at school.’

What’s the layout of the series if it’s renewed?
These are the high school years. The second season would still be within the first book because the first book moves really fast and I want to take my time with it.

What are you looking for from the girls auditioning for the role?
I’m asking a lot of this young actress. I’m asking her to have virtuosity. She has a lot to do, and Anne the character is so mercurial. Her highs are high, her lows are low … she has an inability to self-edit, and that requires a lot of facility. I hope these girls invest, I hope they don’t stay outside the material. The ones that will excite me the most and spark me are the ones who have a real understanding of the character and what they’re saying. Other than that, I’m wide open and want to see who’s here.

What are some modern-day story angles that you can explore in Anne?
A lot of the issues in the books are issues kids are dealing with today. The struggle to belong, bullying and just what it means to navigate these hormonal, pubescent years and try to fit in while trying to figure out who you are at the same time. It’s my plan to make it feel relatable and fresh and when somebody sits down to watch it they say, ‘Oh my God, that happened to me today at school.’

How is the writing going? Are you done all eight scripts?
I am not all done writing. [Laughs.] For some inexplicable reason I decided to write all eight episodes myself. No, I’m really loving it. It’s funny, because when I was up in the Arctic shooting The Grizzlies, I had a little moment to myself to whip back to my room and busted Anne out and wrote a little scene in Episode 6. It was such a relief to go to Avonlea again.

Are you able to write anywhere?
I can write anywhere, but I don’t like to. [Laughs.] I can write on a plane or anywhere, except for a coffee shop. I like to write at home, in my environment, in my pyjamas.

Are you excited to film Anne in Canada?
I’m thrilled to be back. I’ve missed Canada. I’m from Vancouver and it’s refreshing. The feeling of coming home is palpable and it’s really nice. There is a whole different vibe here that I’ve missed.

Anne goes into production this summer.


Link: Calling all 12-year-old Canadian girls: You can audition to be the new ‘Anne of Green Gables’

From Cassandra Szklarski of The Canadian Press:

Calling all 12-year-old Canadian girls: You can audition to be the new ‘Anne of Green Gables’
The former Breaking Bad writer in charge of CBC-TV’s Anne of Green Gables adaptation says she’s on the hunt for “a 12-year-old female Bryan Cranston.”

Emmy Award-winning writer Moira Walley-Beckett notes her version of the Lucy Maud Montgomery classic includes “a very, very demanding role” for a yet-to-be-cast leading lady. Continue reading.


Northwood Entertainment embarks on worldwide search for CBC’s Anne

From a media release:

Northwood Entertainment has begun a worldwide search to find its leading actress for the title role in the new, ongoing television series “ANNE.” Based on Lucy Maud Montgomery’s timeless classic novel Anne of Green Gables, Northwood recently announced that CBC greenlit “ANNE” with a Season One commitment of eight episodes of the adaptation. Production begins summer 2016.

The adaptation is being written solely by Emmy-award winning writer Moira Walley-Beckett (BREAKING BAD, FLESH AND BONE) who will Executive Produce with Miranda de Pencier (BEGINNERS) of Northwood Entertainment.

The professional search is underway for the casting of “ANNE” with auditions in Canada, the U.S. and Europe by award-winning casting agents Susie Figgis (HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER’S STONE, ALICE IN WONDERLAND), Bernard Telsey & Co. (HAMILTON, INTO THE WOODS, GREASE LIVE!) and Stephanie Gorin (FARGO TV SERIES, DEGRASSI: THE NEXT GENERATION).

Beginning May 7 through to May 30, the “The Anne Search” will travel across Canada conducting open casting calls in Toronto (May 7th and May 8th), Vancouver (May 14th and May 15th), Charlottetown (May 28th), and Halifax (May 29th and May 30th).

Anyone can be ANNE! If you’re an 11-14 year old girl simply SIGN UP or SHOW UP! For those enthusiasts who may want to audition and do not have a talent agent or don’t live in the cities holding open casting calls, Northwood Entertainment has created a website to upload auditions to.

Starting today, fans can go to www.theannesearch.com for more information on the new series, how to submit an audition and more information on Canada’s open casting calls.

While the new series will follow a similar storyline to the book, set in 1900’s PEI, that millions of readers around the world know and love, ANNE will also chart new territory. Anne and the rest of the characters will experience new adventures reflecting timeless issues including themes of identity, sexism, bullying, prejudice, and trusting one’s self.



Comments and queries for the week of February 19

YTV’s Anne of Green Gables celebrates family

When I heard of a new Anne of Green Gables film, I wondered why someone felt the need to produce it. I watched the premiere airing, and wondered why even more.

Sara Botsford and Martin Sheen? Really? They don’t fit their characters at all, and their acting skills are limited. Little Ella Ballentine tried, but the three will always be measured against the wonderful 1985 trio of Megan Follows, Colleen Dewhurst and Richard Farnsworth. Not to mention Dame Wendy Hiller in the 1987 sequel.

Not only was the acting in the new film inferior, we also had strange anachronisms such as references to a welfare system and child services, which Canada did not have in 1908 when the novel was written. Trying to update a classic is often a fool’s game. It takes away from the whole texture of the piece.

I realize I’m comparing a movie and a mini-series, but it’s the quality that concerns me. To be measured against an Emmy Award-winning mini-series (followed by the sequel, two years later, which is of equal quality) is a tall order. It would be like trying to remake Citizen Kane or Casablanca. Leave well enough alone.

What should be done is to rebroadcast the 1985 and 1987 series, perhaps every couple of years. They would build a new and growing following, much as films such as It’s a Wonderful Life and The Wizard of Oz have done. —Robert

Saving Charlie on Saving Hope

I think it might have hit Maggie… —Norah

I so HOPE there is HOPE that neither Alex or Charlie ended up dead! I can’t believe that guy could get the information from the receptionist as to where Alex and Charlie were. No receptionist would ever have done that (I know from whence I speak.). The show was so fabulous and so shocking for me at the end! And me, all by myself, with my dog and cat. This show is at the top of my list of shows to watch. I’ll be waiting for Season 5 on tenterhooks. Absolutely love you all for such a good series. Now I am waiting
for the first show of the next season, to see what the next twist is re: Charlie or Alex, or…? —Robin

I think Alex will be shot. Charlie’s already been through quite a bit in terms of “OMG, will he make it??” situations. On another note, I’d love to see more Sydney (Stacey Farber) next season. She and Maggie make a nice fit. —Jordan

I feel like it would be too obvious and redundant to have Alex or Charlie end up in a coma again. Maybe he missed and the bullet passed them and hit someone behind. @Jordan, I agree! Saving Hope needs more Sydney Katz/Stacey Farber. —Flora

I agree with you both. Stacey Farber needs to come back and she should’ve been in the season finale. —Carly

You’re right. I had to re-watch the end of the episode on CTV.ca to see that the woman was behind Alex, facing Charlie, so that proves Charlie may still have his “gift.” In terms of angles as shown on the final shot, I would be more inclined to think we are being misled. However, we will have to wait and see. —Christopher

I don’t know who the ghost was (but Charlie saw her, yay!), she said to him “It’s time to go.” That could mean a whole host of things. I think Crenshaw shot Charlie. It was Charlie he was after, and I think the gun went slightly in Charlie’s direction right before the cut. Did Crenshaw escape, or did he win his appeal? If he won, would he be that pissed about spending a few extra months in prison, only to be put back after this incident? Revenge may be sweet but it makes people idiots. And now the long wait. —Hallie


Got a comment or question about the Canadian TV industry? greg@tv-eh.com or via Twitter @tv_eh.


Links: Anne of Green Gables on YTV

From Tony Wong of the Toronto Star:

He’s Martin of Green Gables
“This is an opportunity to become a part of a really great fictional character and to make a contribution to a new audience. Good things are worth repeating. That’s why you do Shakespeare or any of the great operas. It’s been done endlessly, but it awakens something in us that it awakened in earlier audiences.” Continue reading.

Anne of Green Gables ashtrays? Lucy Maud’s granddaughter has heard it all
“We had talked about it for some years and we started to talk about it again in 2008 and 2009. They hit the nail in the head with the casting. Martin Sheen and Sara Botsford are wonderful and so is Ella Ballentine. Ella is also younger than any other Annes that have been cast (14) and is closer to the age of Anne in the books. She is so smart and natural.” Continue reading.

From Melissa Girimonte of The Televixen:

Martin Sheen: Anne Reconnects us wth our humanity
“If Anne of Green Gables isn’t about humanity, I don’t know what it’s about. It’s about need. It’s about service. It’s reaching out and by doing so you help yourself. The only way I can get to know me is to know you. The only way I know I’m leading an honest or dishonest life is when it is reflected in you. And so we are called to remind each other how important it is to be human.” Continue reading.