Buzz building for Anne of Green Gables television movie on Monday

Dave Stewart
Published on February 11, 2016

Ella Ballentine as Anne Shirley and Martin Sheen as Matthew Cuthbert appear in a scene from the TV movie,  "Lucy Maud Montgomery's Anne Of Green Gables."


Many Islanders will be glued to their television sets on Monday night.

YTV is airing the much anticipated two-hour movie “Lucy Maud Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables’’ at 7 p.m. AT.

Starring Martin Sheen as Matthew Cuthbert, Sara Botsford as his stern sister Marilla and Canadian actor Ella Ballentine as Anne Shirley, the early buzz on the brand new production is very good.

Mary Beth Cavert, an independent scholar who co-edits The Shining Scroll, a newsletter for the L.M. Montgomery Literary Society, told The Guardian that while she wasn’t lucky enough to catch the recent Ottawa premiere of Anne she was talking to two people she knows who did.

Cavert said Jack and Linda Hutton, who own a Montgomery museum in the Muskoka area of Ontario “and are very knowledgable about all things Montgomery’’ were at the Ottawa premiere and are raving about the new movie. The Huttons also spent their honeymoon in P.E.I.

Like many Anne fans, Cavert said the Huttons went into the screening with misgivings that it could possibly match the classic 1985 CBC movie that starred Megan Follows as Anne Shirley.

“However, we were among the first of those who jumped to their feet to applaud the production as the credits rolled,’’ the Huttons said in an email they sent to Cavert.

The Huttons said the read star of the show, in their opinion, was Toronto-born actor Ballentine.

“Ella became Anne. It was as simple as that,’’ they wrote. “It took only a few minutes before we were totally immersed in what we were watching, forgetting all the other versions of this beloved story.’’

The Huttons weren’t alone at the Ottawa premiere.

Also in attendance was Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, wife of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. She was photographed with her daughter, Ella-Grace, L.M. Montgomery’s granddaughter Kate Macdonald Butler who was involved in the production, and Ballentine.

The Huttons said not to expect a remake of the 1985 classic.

“This is a fresh approach that adds new insights and character development to the beloved story. What matters is that the movie focuses on how an imaginative, talkative redheaded orphan changes the lives of an older brother and sister who live in a farm house known as Green Gables.

“By movie’s end it has become a home, not just a house. And the orphan has become family. In our opinion, Kate Macdonald Butler nailed it.’’