Kevin Can Wait has dumped its leading lady and is now going full-on King of Queens. The second season of Kevin James’ CBS comedy will now include the actor’s former King of Queens co-star of nine years, Leah Remini. Remini was recently announced as a series regular on the show after a well-received two-episode guest stint last season. In addition, James’ Kevin Can Wait wife, Donna, played by Erinn Hayes, has been given the boot amid a creative reset for the show, according to the Hollywood Reporter. The shocking news comes just days after Hayes tweeted about the upcoming second season of Kevin Can Wait, a season she thought she would be a part of.
But what does the Kevin Can Wait shakeup mean for fans of the show? The writing may have been on the wall early on, as James’ fans, most notably King Of Queens diehards, felt the actor didn’t have a lot of chemistry with Hayes. When Remini turned up as a guest star for the two-part Kevin Can Wait finale, titled “The Sting of Queens,” it was clear the longtime co-stars were picking up exactly where they left off.
The first season of Kevin Can Wait ended with Hayes’ character quitting her job as a nurse and James’ character, a retired police officer, on a special sting operation with his former partner Vanessa Cellucci (Remini). With Hayes out and Remini now in, it would be surprising if James’ character doesn’t end up having a romantic connection with the female cop.
— Michael Ausiello (@MichaelAusiello) June 2, 2017
After Remini posted a link about her Kevin Can Wait casting and captioned it with the statement “Dreams do come true,” King of Queens fans went crazy posting comments and theories about the bombshell announcement, including her former King of Queens co-star Gary Valentine (IPS worker Danny Heffernan on the show), who happens to be James’ brother and a Kevin Can Wait regular.
Glad to have you back babe! Gonna be fun! https://t.co/b60f5KXs1m
— Gary Valentine (@Gary_Valentine) June 3, 2017
Many of the Kevin Can Wait fans reflected on Remini’s chemistry with James and expressed hope for a King of Queens reboot.
— Ajay Chand (@AjayCnyc) June 4, 2017
— Cody_mode (@lauriecalzone) June 4, 2017
OMG LEAH REMINI IS HIRED FULL TIME ON KEVIN CAN WAT. LEAH AS IN CARRIE. WE GET MORE DOUG AND CARRIE VIBES!???????????????????????? #KevinCanWait MY HEART=????
— ????BrendaBⓋeganhead???? (@BprincessBTR) June 4, 2017
— Nick Parker (@NickParkerLive) June 3, 2017
But some Kevin Can Wait fans expressed disappointment in the decision to let Hayes go. Others said The King Of Queens is over and it’s time for a new show.
— Kevin Grant (@kracgrant) June 4, 2017
@KevinCanWaitCBS great show-hope it's not true erinn hayes leaving-also hope remini not becoming a regular, KOQ is over-time 4 a new show
— FM (@frankmonah) June 4, 2017
On Kevin Can Wait, James’ character, Kevin Gable, was not only married to Donna in the first season, but also had three kids and a future son-in-law (Ryan Cartwright), who lived in the garage. On The King of Queens, Doug and Carrie Heffernan (James, Remini) were childless until the final minutes of the series finale and they had an old man (Carrie’s father Arthur Spooner, played by Jerry Stiller) living in the basement of their Queens, New York, home.
It’s not surprising that Remini, who made headlines for her buzzy Scientology and the Aftermath series last year, agreed to sign on to Kevin Can Wait as a series regular. Last year, Leah Remini told Watch What Happens Live host Andy Cohen that she would jump at the chance to do a King of Queens reboot.
“I would love it,” the actress said. “I would work with Kevin James in a New York second.”
The Kevin Can Wait shakeup isn’t the first time a Kevin James CBS sitcom has been retooled for its second season. The first season of The King of Queens prominently featured Doug Heffernan’s best friend, Richie Iannucci (Larry Romano), but the character was ditched in Season 2, as was Sara Spooner (Lisa Rieffel), Carrie Heffernan’s sister, who appeared in five episodes and was never again seen or talked about after the first season of the show. In fact, subsequent episodes of The King of Queens made it seem as though Carrie was an only child.
Kevin Can Wait returns to CBS on Sept. 25, Monday, at 9 p.m. ET.
[Featured Image by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images]