John Kent Harrison To Direct Two-Hour Original Movie Based On Script by Screenwriter Susan Coyne

13-Year-Old Ella Ballentine To Star As Anne Shirley


Ella Ballentine as Anne with Kate MacDonald Butler, granddaughter of Lucy Maud Montgomery and Executive Producer
Photo credit: Steve Wilkie

TORONTO  – The eagerly-anticipated two-hour original movie Lucy Maud Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables from Breakthrough Entertainment will debut on Corus Entertainment’s YTV in early 2016.

Now in production in several locations throughout Canada, Lucy Maud Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables, based on the classic Anne series of novels, is beautifully reimagined by Breakthrough in association with the author’s granddaughter, Kate MacDonald Butler who serves as an Executive Producer. John Kent Harrison will direct the movie special based on a script by Susan Coyne.

True to the beloved tale that has enchanted fans for over a century, Lucy Maud Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables is the story of Anne Shirley, a fiercely imaginative little girl who touches the lives of everyone she meets. Taken from an orphanage to serve in the household of an older couple, Anne becomes the charge of strait-laced Marilla Cuthbert. Though Marilla is determined to bring discipline to the irrepressible Anne, neither has any idea as to the profound impact they will soon have on each other’s lives.

First published in 1908, Anne of Green Gables remains an iconic work of Canadian literature, which has sold more than 50 million copies worldwide. The eight classic Anne of Green Gables novels set in P.E.I. 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.

“We are so happy Corus shares our love for this timeless story and will join with us to introduce Anne to a whole new generation. We could not have imagined a better home for this very special movie,” said Joan Lambur, Executive Vice-President, Family Entertainment for Breakthrough Entertainment and Executive Producer.

Taking the starring role as Anne Shirley is 13-year-old actress Ella Ballentine who started her film career in Hallmark TV movie starring Casper Van Dien (Baby’s First Christmas, 2012) and has since played leading and supporting roles alongside such distinguished actors as Susan Sarandon (The Calling, 2014), Ryan Reynolds and Rosario Dawson (The Captive, 2014), and Laurence Fishburne and Thomas Jane (Standoff, 2015). Addtionally, she recently completed filming one of the two starring roles in the feature film Against the Wild II: Surviving the Serengeti.Films in which Ballentine has appeared have been screened at a number of film festivals, including Cannes in 2014 and she has also appeared in television series including  the historical fantasy Reign and the medical drama series Saving Hope.

“We are thrilled to bring such a time-honoured and treasured Canadian story to YTV that parents can enjoy with their kids,” said Jamie Piekarz, Director of Content, Corus Kids. “Lucy Maud Montgomery’s Anne, as played by Ella Ballentine, will inspire a new generation of kids with the timeless message of being true to oneself and become a new classic for audiences in Canada and worldwide.”

Highly regarded for his directorial work in the international miniseries format, John Kent Harrison’s television credits include the Emmy Award-winning The Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler, The Lois Wilson Story, which received a SAG nomination for Winona Ryder, and William Faulkner’s Old Man, winner of two Emmy Awards, the Humanities Prize, the Christopher Medal and a Golden Reel. Celebrated as one of the co-creators and co-stars of the award-winning Slings and Arrows television series, script writer Susan Coyne has amassed a number of high-profile writing credits including series Michael: Tuesdays and Thursdays and The Best Laid Plans. Executive Producers for Breakthrough Entertainment include Nat Abraham, Joan Lambur, Ira Levy, Michael McGuigan, and Peter Williamson with Ross Leslie acting as Producer and Lindsey Hermer-Bell as Production Designer.

As the President of family-owned Heirs of L.M. Montgomery Inc., Kate Macdonald Butler oversees all Lucy Maud Montgomery related inquiries and projects, including publishing, film and television, and merchandising ventures. On behalf of her family, Macdonald Butler travels extensively around the world to attend events celebrating to the legacy of L.M. Montgomery. She also serves as a Board Member of the Anne of Green Gables Licensing Authority Inc. and manages the Toronto office of the “Anne” Authority, jointly owned by the province of Prince Edward Island and Heirs of L.M. Montgomery Inc.

Lucy Maud Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables provides a rare opportunity to create an important contemporary vision on a timeless classic that is true to its author. As an Executive Producer and consultant, Kate Macdonald Butler is playing a pivotal role in helping to ensure the film’s authenticity and author intent. Kate has devoted her adult life towards nurturing the legacy of her grandmother for future generations, and Lucy Maud Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables represents an extraordinary opportunity to realize her deep commitment on film,” said Peter Williamson, a Breakthrough Entertainment Partner and Executive Producer.

“Working with Breakthrough Entertainment has been a dream come true for me. Joan Lambur, Peter Williamson and Ira Levy have been so respectful of L.M. Montgomery’s most famous novel, ANNE OF GREEN GABLES. From the inspired casting, the tender script and its eloquent adherence to the story of Anne Shirley, my family is so proud to be associated with bringing Breakthrough’s film adaptation to a new generation of viewers. L.M. Montgomery was my grandmother and I think there is no doubt that she would be very proud too,” said Kate MacDonald Butler.

About Breakthrough Entertainment:  Headquartered in Toronto, Breakthrough Entertainment Inc. (BEI) is a world class studio, being a leading global producer and distributor of acclaimed primetime comedy and drama series, as well as factual entertainment, documentaries, television movies, feature films, family entertainment and children’s animation. As one of Canada’s largest television production and distribution companies, BEI has licensed programs to major broadcasters worldwide.  A vertically-integrated entertainment studio, Breakthrough is involved in worldwide distribution as well as pre-sales, co-productions and third-party acquisitions.  In addition, Breakthrough’s digital media division ranks among one of the industry’s most respected producers of high quality digital entertainment including ebooks, webisodes and online and mobile games. Follow us on Twitter @breakthru_ent.

About YTV
Celebrating 25 years in television, YTV is a leading cross platform entertainment brand for kids and families. The channel offers quality entertainment with hilarious animated and live-action comedy series, popular Nickelodeon series, blockbuster movies, top-rated original Canadian programming, music, celebrities and the channel’s after-school block, The Zone. Through its multiple platforms and exclusive digital and interactive content, YTV is the voice of Canadian youth culture. YTV is owned by Corus Entertainment Inc.

SSA Public Relations/Steve Syatt
(For Breakthrough Entertainment)
(818) 907-0500 /

(For Corus Entertainment)
Kate Calder/416-479-6319

(Unit Publicity)
Cynthia Amsden/(416) 910-7740