Kevin James couldn’t wait: Long Island is his sitcom home
NEW YORK >> With “Kevin Can Wait,” Kevin James has come home.
Home to the tried-and-true sitcom form with which he thrived for nine seasons on “The King of Queens.”
Home to CBS, where “King” enjoyed its long run and where “Kevin Can Wait” arrived this fall (airing Mondays at 8 p.m. EDT).
And home to James’ native Long Island, from where his new show originates.
Though set in the New York City borough of Queens, “The King of Queens” was filmed 2,500 miles away in Los Angeles. But for his return to series television, James wanted to be true to his roots. Not even a studio in nearby Queens would satisfy him.
“I said, ‘If I can do my show on Long Island, then I’ll do it,’” he explains. As its robust audience already knows, “Kevin Can Wait” centers on a Long Island husband and father named Kevin who, newly retired from the police force, finds himself to be an unwitting invader on the home front.
“My wife (played by co-star Erinn Hayes) has already established what’s going on at home,” James laughs, “and when you’re retired and back home full-time, you’re disrupting all that. You can say, ‘I’ll set the rules now.’ But the cement is dry!”
James, 51, was raised in the Long Island hamlet of Stony Brook, and now he’s out to capture the feel of working-class Long Island life that, through his own disarming regularguyness, he embodies both on- and off-camera.
“We want to make Long Island a character in the show, and we’re using it for exterior shots,” he says. And Actor/executive producer Kevin James participates in the “Kevin Can Wait” panel Aug. 10 during the CBS Television Critics Association summer press tour, in Beverly Hills, Calif. With “Kevin Can Wait,” Kevin James has come home to his native Long Island, New York, from where his new CBS sitcom originates. even though the majority of the action is filmed in multi-camera style on a Bethpage, Long Island, soundstage, James loves knowing that local folks who can readily relate to the show’s zany dilemmas comprise each week’s studio audience: “I love that energy.”
Clearly, James has gained a measure of experience in how to be the boss yet still relax. This is in marked contrast to the rising young standup who scored his first sitcom back in 1998.
“On ‘The King of Queens,’ I showed up as this green kid who tried to control things,” he recalls. “You get so panicked, constantly looking over your shoulder, checking if we’re gonna get canceled. This time, my fingerprints are all over it — writing, wardrobe, everything — but I’m also having fun. I want this show to connect, because I love it. But I’ve done it already, and we had a great run.”
Maybe history is repeating itself. In any case, CBS didn’t wait long to give “Kevin Can Wait” a full-season order.
DEAR ABBY >> I recently lost my mom to cancer, and my father has offered her engagement ring to me to propose to my longtime girlfriend. The ring used to belong to my grandmother and has a beautiful quality diamond in a yellow gold setting. My girlfriend and I are not fans of yellow gold.
I know Mom would want my girlfriend to have a ring she loves and will cherish. I was told the setting in Mom’s ring is badly worn and the stone is at risk of falling out. Would it be wrong to use the stone and have the “perfect” ring made for my future fiancee? I’m not sure about destroying the original ring. Thoughts, Abby?
— Nervous in New Jersey
DEAR NERVOUS >> I don’t think it would be wrong. I do think you should talk to a trusted jeweler and take your guidance from him or her.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at www. DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.