Kevin Can Wait star Kevin James really can wait when it comes to responding to his sitcom’s Season 1 controversy. After months of silence since news broke the show was killing off his character’s wife, played by Erinn Hayes, James finally has an explanation for loyal viewers. Well, sort of.
The initial revelation that Hayes’ character, Donna Gable, would be written off blindsided viewers. The show — which was the most-watched comedy on broadcast TV during its freshman season — found itself on the receiving end of quite a bit of criticism when Hayes confirmed her character’s death.
True, I've been let go from the show. Very sad, I had a great experience season 1. Thank you for all the support from our wonderful fans. https://t.co/HfYKzVuSnT
— erinn hayes (@hayeslady) June 3, 2017
The news was made all the more confusing by the fact that it came merely a day after CBS announced James’ former King of Queens co-star, Leah Remini, would be joining the cast as a series regular. Rumors quickly began to build that Hayes was ousted in order to bring Remini aboard full time, although any suggestion of such is unsubstantiated.
So finally, after months of rampant speculation, James decided to address the casting shake-up directly.
“I get that people are like, ‘Whoa, why would you do this?’ But it really felt like a thing like this was needed for this show to drive forward,” he told The Daily News. “Now, I have to deal with my daughter in a different way, and she’s gonna go to college, or one’s getting married, or the holidays. And it deals with things in a different, weightier way.”
According to James, letting Hayes go was not a reflection on her talent as an actor. Rather, it was allegedly a necessary evil in the lifespan of the series.
“The plot of the show didn’t have enough drive,” James said. “If we got through a second season, I wouldn’t see us getting through a third one. We were literally just running out of ideas.”
Remini, who played James’ wife on The King of Queens from 1998 to 2007, has already settled into her role in Season 2 as Vanessa Cellucci — the ex-partner (and sometimes adversary) of James’ character when he was on the police force.
While there are no official plans presently to create a romantic connection between the characters, Remini says she isn’t ruling it out, either. “You have to at some point,” she said. “It’s not a ‘no,’ it’s just there’s so many episodes to do before that.”