A reality show that will cast the role of Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz will debut next season on CBC, the public broadcaster announced Thursday.

CBC, which is facing the loss of $115 million over the next three years from its parliamentary allocation, announced four new shows and 14 returning primetime shows for the 2012-13 season in a news release.

One of the new offerings is Over the Rainbow, a collaboration with Toronto’s Mirvish Productions to choose a new lead for a stage production of The Wizard of Oz via live competition.

It would be a similar format to How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria? the 2008 reality show that chose Elicia MacKenzie to play Maria in a Mirvish production of The Sound of Music.

Also added to the CBC lineup:

  • Murdoch Mysteries, the former Citytv crime series which CBC previously announced it would take over.
  • Titanic: Blood and Steel, a series from the team behind Camelot and The Tudors.
  • Cracked, a new drama that follows a team of cops and psychiatric professionals who work together to solve crime.

But CBC has cancelled critically acclaimed series Michael Tuesdays & Thursdays, comedy InSecurity, historical drama Camelot, talent show Cover Me Canada and Kevin O’Leary’s reality series Redemption. Battle of the Blades, the high-profile reality show that asked hockey players to don figure skates is on hiatus.

"We have put Battle of the Blades officially on a hiatus and we hope that we can, if financial circumstances improve, we can work with Insight Productions on bringing Battle of the Blades back," said Julie Bristow, CBC head of scripted programming.

John Brunton of Insight says the show could move to another network if CBC cannot commit to future seasons.

"It could at some point turn up elsewhere if the CBC doesn't want to move forward with the program," Brunton said.

Bristow said it had been difficult to make the cuts, but CBC does not have the finances to bring as many shows to air.

Little Mosque on the Prairie and Being Erica had been scheduled to end with the 2011-12 season.

Kirstine Stewart, head of CBC’s English-language network, announced last week that CBC would have to reduce its production of new primetime Canadian programming to live within its smaller budget.

The public broadcaster is projecting 650 job cuts, as well as less spending on original series, after the Harper government cut 10 per cent from its federal operating grant over three years.

Arctic Air, which debuted in January 2012 to the largest CBC audience in 15 years, is returning for a second season, as is new comedy Mr. D, starring Gerry Dee.

CBC will continue to produce its current affairs and documentary programs such as The Fifth Estate, Doc Zone, The Nature of Things and Marketplace. Marketplace, a consumer affairs show, has expanded to a full season with 24 episodes, instead of 12.

Other primetime shows returning:

  • 22 Minutes
  • Dragons' Den
  • George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight
  • Heartland
  • Republic of Doyle
  • The Big Decision
  • The Rick Mercer Report
  • The Ron James Show

"CBC Television’s commitment to developing entertaining, engaging Canadian programming was rewarded with record ratings last season," said Christine Wilson, executive director of content planning said in a press release.

"Despite financial challenges, the strength of those returning favourites combined with exciting new titles is setting the stage for an outstanding 2012-13 season."

 

With files from The Canadian Press