For weeks, viewers have had a basic question: Whatever happened to “The United States of Al”?
Now CBS has an answer. “Al” (shown here) – suddenly shelved during the Afghanistan withdrawal – has been rewriting its second-season opener.
Producers have created “an entirely new episode to address the current situation,” said Kelly Kahl, the network’s entertainment president.
The comedy is from Chuck Lorre, who has also done “Big Bang Theory,” “Mom,” “Bob (Hearts) Abishola” and more. It focuses on an Afghan refugee who moved to the U.S. and is temporarily living with the former American soldier he was a translator for.
The approach has been light, but had some tense moments – especially when Al lost contact with his Afghan family and when a potential girlfriend resented anyone who had worked with the Americans. Also, the stars ended some episodes with pleas that translators and others get help moving to the U.S.
Then “Al” vanished. Now Kahl promises “a very powerful and moving episode” Oct. 7, to start the new season. That was in a virtual press conference Thursday (Sept. 9) with the Television Critics Association. Thom Sherman, the programming chief, also announced:
– Two pilot films. “The Never Game” is from Justin Hartley (“This Is Us”), who plays a survivalist hired for rescues; Ken Olin will produce and direct. “True Lies” is produced by James Cameron (“Titanic”), who wrote and directed the movie about a spy whose wife thinks he’s a bureaucrat.
– A reality-show emphasis on Wednesdays. That starts with “Survivor” (which skipped last year) and “Tough as Nails.” Countering the Winter Olympics in February is “Celebrity Big Brother.:”Also in the works is “Come Dance With Me,” pairing kid dancers with parents or other mentors.
– The hosts for “The Activist,” which has real-life activists competing. It will be hosted by Usher, Julianne Hough and Priyanka Chopra Jonas.
– And re-entering the New Year’s Eve business. The five-hour special will be from a dozen Nashville locations, with a large line-up. Already set are Blake Shelton, Luke Bryan, Miranda Lambert, Jason Aldean, Darius Rucker, Kelsea Ballerini, Dierks Bentley, Jimmie Allen, and more, including the Zac Brown Band, Brooks & Dunn and Dan + Shay.