There's a new redhead in town: New Anne series premieres on CBC

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'Cavendish Forever' — new tourism brand focuses on reconnecting with memories

'Cavendish Forever' — new tourism brand focuses on reconnecting with memories

There's a new redhead in town, and Anne of Green Gables and L.M. Montgomery fans across Canada are eagerly awaiting the premiere of the new television series Anne airing on CBC Sunday, March 19.

It's the second recent reboot of the classic tale of a red-headed orphan girl (Amybeth McNulty) adopted by the elderly siblings Matthew (R.H. Thomson) and Marilla Cuthbert (Geraldine James) to help them run the farm at Green Gables in the fictional town of Avonlea, P.E.I.

This series, which producers have promised will expand on the spirit of the books and be a "grittier" take, follows a version that aired on YTV in February 2016 starring Hollywood's Martin Sheen as Matthew and produced by Corus Entertainment. 

The Corus reboot was the first major interpretation of Montgomery's iconic 1908 novel since Sullivan Entertainment's 1984 version with Megan Follows, and Montgomery's descendants helped produce it. It won an award, and now two more instalments have since been filmed — one aired in February and the other will air July 1. 

Province invests $160K

Tourism PEI is excited about the series, said Minister Heath MacDonald. Last year, Corus'sAnne caused a 30 per cent bump in the Tourism website and social media traffic.

"Hopefully that turns out to more visitors coming to Prince Edward Island," MacDonald said, noting visits to Green Gables national historic site in Cavendish, P.E.I., have been up significantly the last few years. 

The province is paying $160,000 for commercials and promotions to run during Anne, MacDonald revealed.

'Insult to Maud'

Are people excited to see a new Anne?

"So sweet," writes Myra LeClair on CBC P.E.I.'s Facebook page. "At last an Anne who looks exactly as I pictured her when reading the Anne books as a young girl. Can't wait to watch this."

But others feel differently.

"Not in the least," tweeted Carol Dobson. "Every one so far has been an insult to Maud and to P.E.I. Why don't they just quit and read the book?"

And Dobson decried the fact the series was filmed mostly in Ontario. "There is nothing worse than Ontario mutton being portrayed as P.E.I. lamb when it comes to filming," she said.

Audrey Robertson was not a fan of the Corus version.

"I will give it a chance, hope it's not full of American actors like the remake of Green Gables," Robertson tweeted. "Just didn't have any magic."

'Loyal to the original movie'

"I'm loyal to the original [1984] movie," explained Joanne MacNevin on Twitter. "I'll try watching, but will only continue if they're true to the book."

"Megan Follows will forever be Anne to me!" agreed user @skittlesandbits.

Susan Lea Manning said she was going to try to watch the program while on a trip to Mexico. "I'm so excited — puffed sleeves," she wrote.

What would Montgomery say?

"This is nice if it brings people into the books, we're happy with that," said Mary Beth Cavert with the L.M. Montgomery Literary Society. 

"I'm not a purist … I like a story well-told, and so did Montgomery," said the Minnesota-based writer and Montgomery researcher, sharing that the author enjoyed the movie versions made during her day — her favourite was a 1934 Anne starring Dawn O'Day — O'Day later changed her name to Anne Shirley. Montgomery even wrote the actress fan letters, Cavert revealed.   

Montgomery never did earn money from movie versions of her books, Cavert said, but she was flattered.

The new Anne series has already been lauded by The Globe and Mail's John Doyle as "striking and fresh." 

It will air on CBC Sunday, and on Netflix in the U.S. starting May 12.

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