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Kevin Can Wait will kill off Erinn Hayes' character this fall

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Hello and goodbye to a wife for Kevin James.

When Kevin Can Wait returns to CBS in the fall, time will have jumped a year in the life of Kevin Gable (James), who will be depicted as a widower with kids.

“The character will have passed away, and we will be moving forward in time,” CBS programming chief Thom Sherman told reporters Tuesday in Beverly Hills, Calif. Added CBS president Kelly Kahl, “It will be treated with dignity and respect, something that will have taken place in the past.”

In June, it was revealed that Erinn Hayes, who played Kevin’s wife Donna in the first season, was leaving the show. The plan was to take the sitcom about a retired police officer with three kids in a different direction. At the same time, the comedy made its first big change by announcing that Leah Remini — who had recurred as a tough detective named Vanessa Cellucci  — would become a series regular in season 2.

Remini played James’ wife in their long-running CBS comedy The King of Queens.

In the new season, James’ character will join a new security firm run by Remini. “I think when everybody collectively saw how Leah and Kevin were together in those last couple of episodes, there was an undeniable spark there,” Kahl told reporters. “I think Leah and the studio and network got together and we wanted to keep that magic together.”

Kahl also added that James’ character “will date at some point” but insiders at CBS caution that there is no plan to turn Kevin Can Wait into the new King of Queens.