Kevin James is returning to CBS this fall in Kevin Can Wait, a new comedy series that has a lot in common with his hit sitcom The King of Queens, which ran on the network from 1998 until 2007 and also starred Leah Remini and Jerry Stiller. But it's not just a retreading of that series, says James.
For starters, James' character is a father of three in Kevin Can Wait. "I've never played a dad in a sitcom before," James told reporters Wednesday during the Television Critics Association fall previews. "It's gonna be a lot of fun to be deal with kids and deal with problems of the day."
When asked about comparisons to The King of Queens, James discussed the difficulty of finding a balance between the old and the new.
"You always want to do something different yet the same," he said. "It's a constant battle in my career to say 'I don't want to do the same thing again or this or that,' and so you say you want to do something different but automatically you lose half your audience, the people that enjoyed what you were doing."
"I think we've done it really well," he continued. "It's just a matter of finding those elements [and] making it different enough."
Executive producer Rock Reuben, who also worked with James on The King of Queens, noted the importance of not alienating the potential built-in audience.
"We definitely wanted to have some familiar notes in the show that the King of Queens audience would feel comfortable with and enjoy, but yet also mix in a whole bunch of new things and take them places they haven't been with Kevin before," he said.
One thing those fans won't see anytime soon? Guest appearances from Remini or Stiller.
"If I did it too soon, it would feel like a ploy. I want this show to take on its own life and become its own thing," said James. "It can't help but be compared as it is, but I want to reduce that as much as possible.
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