Well, this is interesting. Erinn Hayes was sadly fired from Kevin Can Wait following the culmination of the hit CBS sitcom's first season in May — and now, the show's executive producer has revealed why main character Donna Gable was suddenly killed off in the series' storyline.
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"The goal was to give Kevin James' character Kevin Gable a real drive and a real predicament [involving] how a family comes back together [after his wife's death]. Also, out of respect for the character of Donna — and certainly the way that Erinn Hayes portrayed her — it seemed like the only right and fair way to treat her character," Rob Long told TV Line on Tuesday, Aug. 22.
Leah and Kevin on Kevin Can Wait. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)
The 41-year-old actress previously confirmed via Twitter that she was removed from the cast after appearing on just one season of Kevin Can Wait. "True, I've been let go from the show. Very sad, I had a great experience [on] Season 1. Thank you for all the support from our wonderful fans," she wrote.
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During the series' two-part Season 1 finale, Kevin's former King of Queens co-star Leah Remini made a very highly-publicized guest appearance and, basically, fans loved the KoQ reunion so much that CBS decided to just make Leah a series regular for Season 2. Interestingly, the network's decision to add Leah to the cast meant they had to ditch another star, so Erinn sadly hit the chopping block.
Erinn and Kevin on Kevin Can Wait. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)
At the time or Erinn's shock firing, CBS sources claimed the show was simply moving in a "new creative direction," and her exit from the series was "not a reflection" of her performance. So, how will showrunners explain Erinn's absence in Season 2? "The character will have passed away, and we will be moving forward in time, catching up at a later date," CBS Programming Executive Thom Sherman revealed in early August. When later asked if adding Leah to Kevin Can Wait was the network's way of essentially making a King of Queens reboot, Sherman replied, "I don’t think so. The show speaks for itself and stands for itself. Obviously, the chemistry [between Kevin and Leah] was amazing in the Kevin Can Wait Season 1 episodes."
As for Leah and Kevin, the longtime friends both seem happy to be working together again! "We're always in touch. She's in my life forever. I can't get rid of her!" Kevin told Entertainment Tonight earlier this year. "It was cool reuniting the two characters," Leah has said of her prior guest-star stint on Kevin Can Wait. During a recent sit-down with Stephen Colbert on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, the actress dished on her Season 2 role on the series. "At the end of his first season, I played [Kevin's] ex-partner. We were cops together, we were detectives together. So I just come back as that character," Leah said of playing Vanessa. "I loved [being reunited with Kevin]. It's an amazing feeling." We're so excited to see the two back together full-time this fall!
This story originated on Closer Weekly.
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