'Kevin Can Wait' killing off wife to make room for Leah Remini

Kenny Can Wait
“Kenny Can Wait” — Kevin takes a job as a driver in New York City and is delighted to learn his passenger is Harry Connick Jr., but while the two strike up an unlikely friendship, Kevin continuously finds himself making misleading comments to his new pal to make himself sound more interesting, on KEVIN CAN WAIT, Monday, April 10 (8:00-8:30 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. Harry Connick Jr. guest stars as himself. Pictured: Erinn Hayes, Kevin James. Credit: David M. Russell/CBS ©2016 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved

TV critics are a jaded lot, but our jaws do occasionally drop.

A roomful of jaws did just that Tuesday, as CBS executives revealed, during the Television Critics Association’s summer meetings in Beverly Hills, just how Kevin Can Wait costar Erinn Hayes will be written out to make room for Kevin James’ former King of Queens partner, Leah Remini, to join the show.

She’s gonna die, guys.

Not Hayes, of course, but Donna, the character married to James’ character — a briefly retired police officer named, uh, Kevin — will be written out in that most permanent of ways.

Don’t worry — “it will be addressed tastefully,” according to CBS entertainment president Kelly Kahl.

When the new season premieres, Donna’s death will already have taken place, probably nine months to a year earlier, he said.

“Erinn’s a terrific actress. She did a great job. I think when everbody, collectively, saw how Leah and Kevin were together, in those last couple of episodes [of last season], there was just an undeniable spark there,” Kahl said, and everyone, including the studio, network, and James, “wanted to kind of keep that magic and chemistry going forward.”

In other words, the corporate heart wants what the corporate heart wants.

How long, I asked, will Kevin have to wait before he dates?

Kahl laughed. “I don’t know. That’s interesting. … I’m sure Kevin will do some dating at some point.”