CBC unveils summer sked details

Aside from the announcements planned for the pubcaster's event in Toronto today, there are some notable new series and specials with summer time slots.

The CBC has announced its summer program launches, which include three notable series and three specials that may draw in big audiences.

How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria? premieres Sunday, June 15 at 8 pm. The series portrays the search for the right person to fill the role of Maria Von Trapp in The Sound of Music. Over seven weeks, 48 young hopefuls will sing and dance to win the votes of Canadians. The winner will play the role in a new stage production of the musical, produced by Andrew Lloyd Webber, David Ian and David Mirvish.

Othello will air Sunday, June 15 at 9 pm. The two-hour theatrical TV adaptation is based on William Shakespeare’s tragedy, and aims to raise the bar for psychological thrillers. The show stars Carlo Rota (Little Mosque on the Prairie) as Othello, Christine Horne (The Stone Angel) as Desdemona, Graham Abbey (The Border) as Cassio and Matthew Deslippe (Across the River to Motor City) as Iago. It was adapted by co-writers Zaib Shaikh (Little Mosque on the Prairie – who also directs) and Matthew Edison (Nero Wolfe).

The nine-episode series Mitsubishi City Chase will premiere Monday, June 30 at 8:30 pm. Filmed at City Chase events in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto and Montreal, the series takes viewers across Canada through a part obstacle course, part scavenger hunt. Each city will be featured in two half-hour episodes, and the series will conclude with a one-hour finale.

Specials on the CBC’s summer sked will likely draw some eyeballs with the star power of names like Nelson Mandela, Will Smith and Coldplay.

The Ceeb will air a concert in honour of Nelson Mandela’s 90th birthday, hosted by Will Smith (I Am Legend). As the exclusive Canadian broadcast partner, CBC will air the event on concert day, Friday, June 27 at 7:30 pm, as well as a repeat on Saturday, June 28 at 1 pm and 10 pm on CBC’s digital channel, bold. The event will also be broadcast on cbc.ca and CBC Radio.

The Hour will air an all-access, exclusive one-hour special with Coldplay on June 6 at 11 pm.

In sports, the pubcaster is pushing its coverage of Beijing 2008: The Olympic Games. Live coverage kicks off on Wednesday, August 6 at 4:45 am ET, with a preliminary women’s soccer match featuring Canada and Argentina. The Opening Ceremony will air live on August 8 at 7 am ET. CBC hosts Ron MacLean, Ian Hanomansing, Scott Russell and Diana Swain will be in Beijing.

The Ceeb is also airing the 10-day Calgary Stampede starting July 4. The net will broadcast more than 90 hours on CBCSports.ca and bold, the most extensive coverage ever of the Calgary Stampede on CBC.

Documentaries on the sked include Air India 182, director Sturla Gunnarson’s provocative film about the 1985 Air India tragedy (Sunday, June 22 at 9 pm); The Nature of Things‘ four-part Antarctic Mission (Sunday, July 20 at 6 pm, continuing July 27 and August 3 at 6 pm and Saturday, August 30 at 7 pm); and Wild China, a visually stunning six-part series narrated by David Suzuki (beginning Sunday, June 22 at 6 pm and continuing Saturday, June 28 at 7 pm, Sunday, June 29 at 6 pm, Saturday, July 5 at 7 pm, Saturday, July 12 at 7 pm and Sunday, July 13 at 6 pm).

The four-hour miniseries Everest, filmed in the Rocky Mountains and Nepal, tells the story of the October 1982 adventure of Laurie Skreslet and Pat Morrow, who became the first Canadians to set foot on the highest point on Earth. It airs Sunday, August 31 at 8 pm and concludes Monday, September 1 at 8 pm. Jason Priestley (90210), Leslie Hope (24) and William Shatner (Boston Legal) headline the cast.