Earlier this year, CBS sitcom “Kevin Can Wait” (which airs in Canada on Global) reunited star Kevin James with his former “King of Queens” co-star Leah Remini for a special two-part season finale. So successful was this “stunt” episode that the network decided to bring Remini onto the show as a full-fledged cast member.
The move resulted in the axing of actress Erinn Hayes, who played James’ wife in the sitcom, and won’t be back on the show when it returns for a second season in the fall.
During Tuesday’s CBS executive session at the Television Critics Association press tour, currently underway in Beverly Hills, CBS Executive Vice President Thom Sherman and CBS Entertainment President Kelly Kahl were asked by a reporter about how the show is planning to address the character’s departure.
The exit of Hayes’ character will apparently be fatal. “The character will have passed away,” revealed Sherman.
Further details of how exactly that will be addressed were not revealed (presumably the season will begin with some sort of time jump to avoid beginning a comedy on such a sad note), but Kahl insisted the re-pairing of James and Remini doesn’t mean the show is going to morph into a reboot of “King of Queens”.
“I think the show stands for itself,” Kahl told reporters. “Obviously the chemistry was amazing in the stunt episode, so we decided to continue this chemistry.”
The CBS execs also addressed some high-profile departures from another show, when they were asked about Grace Park and Daniel Dae Kim exiting “Hawaii Five-0” after reports the actors demanded salary parity with co-stars Alex O’Laughlin and Scott Caan but were refused.
“We love both those actors, and we did not want to lose them,” said Kahl, who didn’t address any specifics. “We made strong attempts to keep them and offered them a lot of money to stick around… it was purely a business transaction.”
“Kevin Can Wait” returns to the Global lineup in the fall, with the second season kicking off on Monday, Sept. 25 at 9 p.m. ET/PT; in the meantime, you can watch full episodes online.