|Kevin James with his new Kevin Can Wait TV family|
Back in May, as Kevin James stepped out onto the Carnegie Hall stage to introduce advertisers to his new sitcom Kevin Can Wait, he invoked the name of his character from his previous, beloved CBS comedy, The King of Queens. The father of four, James added that he’s always wanted to work with kids – and thus Kevin Can Wait shows what happens when a guy much like Queens’ blue-collar Doug Heffernan finds himself juggling the added responsibility of children.
The idea for the show arose, notes James’ longtime friend and Kevin co-creator Rock Reuben, from an experience the two men shared, as they returned from a three-month-long shoot in Boston for James’ 2012 film Here Comes the Boom. Finally heading home, “We thought, ‘This must have been rough on our families, missing us so much. When we get home, we’ll make up for lost time.’ And then it turned out, they couldn’t have cared less. Everybody in our families had developed their own routines, and now we were really messing them up.”
At the same time, the two writers also discovered that many of their mutual friends were now about to retire from local New York-area police and fire forces, fantasizing about their futures unfettered and unburdened. And thus was born James’ character Kevin Gable, a newly retired cop looking forward to rejoining his family’s daily routine, as well as spending carefree time with buddies and fellow retirees Goody (Leonard Earl Howze) and Duffy (Lenny Venito) and his fireman brother Kyle (played by James’ real-life brother, Gary Valentine.) Of course, Kevin’s best-laid plans for relaxation soon go astray, as he discovers that his wife Donna (Erinn Hayes) has been shielding him from family problems, particularly the one concerning their eldest daughter Kendra (Taylor Spreitler) and her surprise new fiancé Chale (Ryan Cartwright), the unemployed app developer.
For an extra dose of reality, Kevin Can Wait tapes its episodes in a new studio in Bethpage, Long Island, close to James’ and Reuben’s hometowns. And while James’ real-life kids are all pre-teen and younger, Reuben notes, Kevin’s showrunner Bruce Helford, who previously shepherded Drew Carey’s and George Lopez’s sitcoms to the small screen, brings his own experiences raising a now-grown daughter to the writers’ table. “Every one of us has kids, of different ages, and so we have different perspectives.” Particularly with the show’s city-adjacent setting, “There’s a flavor of The King of Queens in the show by design -- and also the humor that comes from the guys hanging out together, kind of being jackasses,” Reuben admits with a laugh, adding, “We have a lot of ideas in that area.”
Mondays at 8:30 PM Eastern
Begins September 19