One of the more stunning casting decisions in recent years was the decision by producers to kill off actress Erinn Hayes’ character on the CBS sitcom Kevin Can Wait after only one season. The show’s executive producer and star, Kevin James, is now speaking out about why such a drastic change was made.
Many have speculated that producers were eager to replace Hayes with James’ King of Queens co-star Leah Remini, who had a successful guest-starring role in the Kevin Can Wait season finale.
It turns out they were only half right; James says the main reason for getting rid of Hayes’ character was the brick wall the writers were up against.
Referring to the decision to kill his character’s wife, Donna, James says, “It really felt like this was needed for this show to drive forward.”
“The [premise] of the show didn’t have enough drive,” he continues. “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.”
When Kevin Can Wait returned for its second season last month, over a year had passed and it was established that Donna had died, though viewers have yet to learn how or why.
James admits that the positive reception to Remini’s guest spot last season made producers eager to find a way to bring her onboard full-time.
During the first season of Kevin Can Wait, James’ character was a recently retired police officer, with Remini appearing as his former partner.
Under the show’s new premise, James is now working for a security company with Remini co-starring as his new boss.
Of course, one of the major questions for viewers now is if the show will pursue a romance between Remini and James. According to Remini, it’s not a matter of if but when. “You have to at some point,” she says.