EXCLUSIVE: CBS, Chuck Lorre’s broadcast home for the past 16 years, has landed the next multi-camera sitcom from the comedy king. The network has given a pilot production commitment to United States of Al, from The Big Bang Theory co-creator/executive producer Lorre, fellow Big Bang executive producers David Goetsch and Maria Ferrari, TV personality and scholar of religious studies Reza Aslan and Warner Bros. TV.
Written by Goetsch and Ferrar, United States of Al is a comedy about the friendship between Riley, a Marine combat veteran struggling to readjust to civilian life in Ohio, and Awalmir (Al), the Afghan interpreter who served with his unit and has just arrived to start a new life in America.
Goetsch and Ferrari executive produce with Lorre, Aslan and Mahyad Tousi. Warner Bros. Television produces with Lorre’s studio-based Chuck Lorre Productions.
This is the second consecutive Chuck Lorre comedy for CBS with an immigrant as a title character, joining Bob Hearts Abishola, starring Billy Gardell and Folake Olowofoyeku, which was with a pilot production commitment last fall. It went to series, which premiered last month. In fact, every broadcast comedy project from Lorre since 2003’s Two and a Half Men, which he co-created and executive produced, has been for CBS and all have gone to series: Two and a Half Men, Mike & Molly, mega-hit The Big Bang Theory — which featured Indian-born Raj as a main character — spinoff Young Sheldon, Mom and Bob Hearts Abishola. On the premium side, Lorre has the single-camera Netflix comedy The Kominsky Method, starring Michael Douglas and Alan Arkin, which earned the veteran creator a Comedy Series Golden Globe Award.
The plight of thousands of Afghan translators left behind after working for U.S. troops has made headlines in the past couple of years after the Trump administration implemented a new process that greatly reduced the number of Special Immigrant Visas awarded to former Afghan and Iraqi translators, putting the Afghani civilians’ lives at risk. Before the slowdown, more than 70,000 Afghans and Iraqis had received SIVs since the visa program was introduced in 2007 and, like the fictional character in United States of Al, had relocated to the U.S. with their families.
Goetsch was a key writer-producer on Big Bang. He was on the hit ensemble comedy for its entire 12-season run, starting as co-executive producer and transitioning to executive producer. He currently is helping as a writer on Bob Hearts Abishola.
Ferrari joined Big Bang at the beginning of Season 4 as a co-producer, rising through the ranks to executive producer, During the final season of Big Bang, she simultaneously worked as a supervising producer on spinoff series Young Sheldon and currently is a co-executive producer on the prequel.
Aslan and Tousi are the founders of BoomGen Studios, focused on content by and about the peoples and cultures of the Middle East, Central/South Asia and North Africa. Through BoomGen Studios, the duo executive produced the 2016 ABC biblical drama Of Kings and Prophets.
Alsan also served as consulting producer on the second and third seasons of HBO’s The Leftovers. He has written three bestselling books on religion. Tousi has worked in more than two dozen countries as a producer, director and cinematographer, in both fiction and documentary;