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‘Kevin Can Wait’ creators to kill off wife, replace with Leah Remini

"Kenny Can Wait -Pictured: Kevin James, Erinn Hayes. .
"Kenny Can Wait -Pictured: Kevin James, Erinn Hayes. . David M. Russell/CBS via Getty Images

A major casting change has been made to Global’s Kevin Can Wait for Season 2.

The executives on the Kevin James comedy will eliminate family man Kevin Gable’s wife Donna (Erinn Hayes) for its sophomore season.

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James will be reunited with Leah Remini, his TV wife for nine season on The King of Queens.

The new season will fast-forward roughly a year to find Donna killed off and Kevin Gable widowed, clearing the deck for Remini, who guest-starred in a couple of episodes that closed out last season.

In regards to Hayes not returning for Season 2, Kelly Kahl, CBS Entertainment president, said, “It will be treated with dignity and respect, and the show will move forward.”

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Remini’s appearances on the show were as a stunt, not a tryout, Kahl said.

“But there was just an undeniable spark there,” he said, “and I think Kevin, the studios, and the network all got together and wanted to keep that magic and chemistry going forward.”

Global News senior entertainment reporter Chris Jancelewicz confirmed the news from the 2017 Television Critics Association (TCA) Summer Press Tour in Los Angeles.

“This is something that’s never happened on TV before, so it’s definitely unusual. It’ll be interesting to see how viewers react to the reunion of the two King of Queens leads. Here at TCA, the reaction was certainly one of surprise, and these are seasoned TV critics.”

In the Season 1 finale, retired cop Kevin temporarily returned to the force as part of an ongoing undercover operation with former partner Vanessa Cellucci (played by Remini). After the case was closed, Kevin returned home to learn that Donna had quit her job as a school nurse after being passed up for a promotion, meaning the pair of them were now unemployed.

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“True, I’ve been let go from the show,” Hayes wrote on social media after news of her exit broke. “Very sad, I had a great experience season 1. Thank you for all the support from our wonderful fans.”

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Kevin Can Wait Season 2 will air on Global in Fall 2017 on Monday nights at 8 p.m (ET).

—With files from The Associated Press