Donna died so Kevin Can Wait could live, according to Kevin James. The CBS sitcom’s star and exec producer is speaking out for the first time about the decision to kill off leading lady Erinn Hayes, telling the NY Daily News that the tragedy was necessary to give the series longevity.
“It really felt like this was needed for this show to drive forward,” James insists. “The [premise] of the show didn’t have enough drive. 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.”
Kevin Can Wait‘s Season 2 premiere last month picked up one year after Donna’s off-screen death, addressing her absence only in passing and without identifying the cause of her demise. James’ former King of Queens co-star Leah Remini — who guest-starred in the Season 1 finale as Kevin’s former police partner — was brought back full-time to fill the Donna void.
“When [Leah first] came on … it was just the greatest,” James says. “Fans loved it, everybody on the crew loved it. We just knew right away, so we thought, ‘How can we get her here full-time to be on the show?'”
Producers have yet to play the romance card between Kevin and Vanessa, but Remini tells the Daily News such a development is a matter of when not if. “You have to at some point,” she maintains. “It’s not a ‘no,’ it’s just there’s so many episodes to do before that.”