Nine years after leaving primetime TV for a more feature-focused career, comedian Kevin James will be heading back to everyone's lives on a weekly basis with the upcoming CBS sitcom Kevin Can Wait. But while it shares a network, a genre and a lead actor with James' former hit show The King of Queens, this new show isn't a carbon copy. In discussing the ways in which the comedies differ, James let it slip that audiences shouldn't expect to see the stars from his past gig showing up for cameos. Here's why it won't happen initially.
If I did it too soon, it would feel like a ploy. I want this show to take on its own life and become its own thing. It can't help but be compared as it is, but I want to reduce that as much as possible.
Hard to hate on such a genuine answer like that, in an industry where many would want to add any and all recognizable elements to a new project to gain attention. Having Leah Remini dropping by for an episode as a new neighbor would make complete sense for a lot of reasons, but Kevin James is apparently invested in keeping a clear line drawn between his two TV worlds.
Now, King of Queens' Gary Valentine is indeed also in Kevin Can Wait, but he's Kevin James' brother, so of course he's gonna be there. Remini would obviously be a more distracting bit of casting, as it would be if Jerry Stiller started yelling at James in an airport or if one party scene just had Patton Oswalt standing around without moving. It sucks that those things won't happen, I suppose, but if Season 1 of Kevin Can Wait is successful, perhaps we can expect to see some stunt casting in Season 2. Just picture the kitchen table seen above with a couple of other faces around it.
Kevin James will play the husband to Childrens Hospital's Erinn Hayes, and the two will have three children to deal with on an episodic basis. Being a TV dad will be new for the actor, too, as well as other situations the show will put his character through. Not that there isn't always the pull of doing something you're used to. James explained to TV Guide how tough it is to nail the balance.
You always want to do something different yet the same. It's a constant battle in my career to say 'I don't want to do the same thing again or this or that,' and so you say you want to do something different but automatically you lose half your audience, the people that enjoyed what you were doing. I think we've done it really well. It's just a matter of finding those elements [and] making it different enough.
Indeed, Kevin James has two upcoming film roles that are slightly different from his past efforts. He'll play an accountant taken for a deadly killer in the action comedy The True Memoirs of an International Assassin and a middle-aged man heading back to college to play football in the true story drama 44. Of course, he's also going to be in broad-as-barn-doors movies with Adam Sandler and his usual cohorts, and we're probably only seconds away from another Paul Blart sequel going into production, but at least there's the ambition to do something unexpected.
Kevin Can Wait will debut on CBS on Monday, September 19, at 8:30 p.m. ET. To see everything else coming to TV later this year, check out our fall premiere schedule.