CBS Explains Why They're Killing Off A Lead In Exchange For Leah Remini

Photo: Jeff Neumann/CBS.

Remember King of Queens? The one starring Kevin James, Leah Remini, and Ben Stiller's dad? The show you used to watch after school while eating a snack? (Or was that just me?) It's back. Sort of. And the reasons surrounding it are causing some drama.

CBS is about to debut its second season of the sitcom Kevin Can Wait, starring James and actress Erinn Hayes as his wife. The series recently wrapped its first season, only to tell fans that Hayes, one of the leads on the show, would be killed off with no hope of returning in the show again. The news came as a brutal shock for a lot of people, especially after hearing about why: Remini would reprise her role as James' love interest and become a major character in the sophomore season. So, King of Queens is back — ish.

Hayes first confirmed that she was leaving the series in June on Twitter writing "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."

Now, CBS programming executive Thom Sherman is offering an explanation for the sudden departure at the Television Critics Association press tour. "The character will have passed away, and we will be moving forward in time, catching up at a later date," Sherman said to Entertainment Tonight. When asked about Remini joining the cast he said, "The show speaks for itself and stands for itself. Obviously, the chemistry [between Kevin James and Leah Remini] was amazing in the stunt episodes.” Still, he maintains that Kevin Can Wait won't turn into a King of Queens reprise. Sherman adds that the show will fast forward to a year later, presumably to give his character time to mourn the unexpected passing of his wife and start a relationship with Remini. Vanity Fair brings up that often times a sudden exit, like Hayes', is laced with some behind-the-scenes situation, but that is pure speculation at this point. It's more likely that CBS was itching to get Remini and James back together again.

With this role alongside her former onscreen husband, Remini will be starring in not one, but two, lead roles on two very different shows. Her series on A&E about Scientology, Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath, starts airing its second 10-episode season on August 15 while Kevin Can Wait returns Sept. 25.

For those curious, here's a peek at what's to come.

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