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10 Fun Facts About The King of Queens

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From September 21, 1998 to May 14, 2007, Kevin James played Everyman Doug Heffernan, an International Parcel Service (IPS) delivery driver living in, you guessed it, Queens, New York. For nine seasons, the CBS sitcom was a hit, especially because of Doug’s bickering dynamics with wife Carrie (Leah Remini), his cousin Danny (played by James’s older brother, Gary Valentine), and his live-in father-in-law, Arthur Spooner (Jerry Stiller).

In 1996, Kevin James made his first appearance on Everybody Loves Raymond as a character named Kevin. "When I created The King of Queens in 1997, it wasn’t even for CBS, it was for NBC," co-creator Michael J. Weithorn tells Mental Floss. "David Litt and I created the character of Doug for that pilot. NBC passed on the pilot, then CBS picked it up." A couple of months after The King of Queens debuted, James reappeared on Raymond, this time as Doug Heffernan. And, in a bit of symmetry, between 1998 and 2005 Ray Romano played Ray Barone on four episodes of The King of Queens. For the 10th anniversary of the show’s finale, here are 10 fun facts about the sitcom.

1. THE STUDIO DIDN’T WANT DOUG AND CARRIE TO HAVE KIDS.

    David Bickel, one of the show’s executive producers, told Futon Critic that Sony didn’t like the idea of them having kids. “The studio felt that if you have a big thing happen to the Heffernan family then it kind of dates the old shows as 'pre-baby' and the new shows as 'post-baby' and it kind of hurts syndication a little bit,” he said. “And for us, the thing was always Jerry Stiller is the baby.” During the series finale, Doug and Carrie finally have kids—they fly to China to adopt a girl, and then Carrie finds out she’s pregnant.

    2. PATTON OSWALT STOOD MOTIONLESS ONSCREEN FOR ALMOST THREE MINUTES.

      During the almost three-minute opening of the April 10, 2006, episode, Patton Oswalt’s character, Spence Olchin, can be seen standing motionless in the Heffernans’ living room while everyone else moves around, talks, and celebrates Doug’s 40th birthday. Spence neither moves nor speaks for the duration of the sequence, even when the camera cuts back and forth from the living room to the kitchen. In 2011 Oswalt explained the reason for his bizarre behavior to Jimmy Fallon: “I’ve never worked with a stonier crew than The King of Queens’ writers and producers,” he said. Apparently the writers asked him to stand there just to see how weird it’d look, and to see if anybody would notice.

      3. VICTOR WILLIAMS THINKS PEOPLE LIKED THE SHOW’S “SIMPLICITY.”

        Victor Williams played Doug’s co-worker and friend Deacon Palmer. “It’s the simplicity of regular folks that people respond to—and in such an overwhelming way, it was kind of surprising to me initially,” Williams told Today in 2007. “But then it made sense. There’s a sort of honesty in that simplicity that I’ve really enjoyed and I’m really going to miss."

        4. CARRIE HAD ANOTHER DAD BEFORE JERRY STILLER SIGNED ON.

          Bickel described the show’s pilot as a “hybrid” because actor Jack Carter played Arthur, but when Stiller became available for the role, he replaced Carter. “What they did was when they decided to do it with Jerry, they reshot just the first few scenes with him,” Bickel said. “So I'd be watching the show [with Jerry onscreen] and it was like, ‘Oh, this is great’ and all of a sudden Jack Carter would appear and it was like, ‘What's happening here?’

          “Years later I was in Costco and who’s there buying batteries yelling at his wife but Jack Carter. And I’m thinking our lives would have really would have been so different—both of ours—by this one event.”

          5. KEVIN JAMES THOUGHT HIS UNIFORM WAS TOO SNUG.

            Talking to TV Guide, Kevin James revealed that when he gained weight his IPS uniform hurt his body. “The shorts were tight and they'd cut into my hips,” he said. “I'd feel like writing scenes around it, like, ‘Oh, I don't need a uniform.’ They’d be like, ‘But you’re at work!’ And I’d be like, ‘Whatever. I show up without it!’”

            6. SCIENTOLOGY AFFECTED REMINI’S WORK ON THE SOW.

              In a much publicized move, Remini left the Church of Scientology in 2013, and filmed a docuseries about her traumatizing experiences called Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath, which aired on A&E in November 2016. Remini told The Hollywood Reporter the church wanted her to recruit James, her fellow actors, and crew members. “It’s always, ‘Why are you not getting Kevin James in? You’re not setting a good example. You’re not getting the director in.’ There was always pressure to make a Scientologist out of the people you were working with,” she said. She also said the church objected to a joke the show did about Katie Holmes, who was then a part of the church, too.

              7. JERRY STILLER FELT ARTHUR WAS A “NOODGE.”

                In an interview with Emmy TV Legends, Stiller said he created Arthur’s characterizations from his costars. “You live off the people you’re working with,” he said. “I took it from the other actors and how they treated me in terms of the character, and I found out I was a noodge, a person who was a pain in the neck, a bunion on their life. And I carried it out to the best of my ability.”

                Stiller thinks that Carrie and Doug would’ve murdered him if they could. “He rules his daughter and son-in-law by virtue of the fact he’s alive,” Stiller said. “You don’t want to kill him off, but if you would you could. He’s a meshuggah. You don’t exactly know what his background is, whether he’s a union man or a capitalist. Week to week, he just floats. That’s my estimation of who I am.”

                8. JAMES AND REMINI ARGUED IN REAL LIFE, TOO.

                  While appearing on Oprah, Remini admitted that she and James fought on set, because they cared about each other. “There were times Kevin and I would argue about something stupid, and we had to kiss but we’d make no eye contact,” she said. “But that’s because we loved each other. If you don’t care about somebody, you don’t even bother to fight with them. When you tell somebody to go f’ themselves, and they don’t turn around and fight with you, then you know there’s a problem."

                  9. LOU FERRIGNO FINALLY GOT TO SPEAK.

                    On the show, the former Incredible Hulk plays a version of himself as the Heffernan’s next door neighbor. Ferrigno said the producers saw him in a movie called The Godson and cast him. “I did the one episode and it was so well-received they said, 'We want to give you a recurring role,'” Ferrigno said. He ended up appearing in 18 episodes, beginning in 2000. He liked the opportunity to tackle comedy—and to finally speak dialogue instead of just grunting.

                    “I knew at the time I was typecast,” Ferrigno said about his Hulk character. “They said, ‘Maybe Lou Ferrigno can’t speak.’ So I changed all that. I went to the theater and then eventually I did The King of Queens.”

                    10.  JAMES AND REMINI RECENTLY REUNITED ON KEVIN CAN WAIT.

                      Kevin Can Wait, another CBS Kevin James-starring sitcom, debuted during the fall 2016 season. This time, instead of playing a delivery man, James plays a retired cop. During the May 2017 season finale, Leah Remini appeared as Vanessa, the former police partner of James's character. In the two-part episode, “Sting of Queens,” they go undercover and pretend to be a married couple.

                      “They’re literally Doug and Carrie, as cops,” Remini told USA Today. James didn’t want her role to be meta. “We’re not going, ‘Hey, can you Carrie this for me? I really Doug myself out of a hole this time, didn’t I?’” he also said to USA Today. “It’s a weird thing to bring someone in. I chose to not make her Carrie or say he was having a dream. I just wanted to make it realistic and not break that fourth wall.”

                      James told the New York Post that the reunion was like old times. “I felt like it was 10 years earlier; it felt so similar to those days [on The King of Queens]. It’s like we never stopped and just picked up where we left off.”

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                      An AI Program Wrote Harry Potter Fan Fiction—and the Results Are Hilarious
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                      “The castle ground snarled with a wave of magically magnified wind.”

                      So begins the 13th chapter of the latest Harry Potter installment, a text called Harry Potter and the Portrait of What Looked Like a Large Pile of Ash. OK, so it’s not a J.K. Rowling original—it was written by artificial intelligence. As The Verge explains, the computer-science whizzes at Botnik Studios created this three-page work of fan fiction after training an algorithm on the text of all seven Harry Potter books.

                      The short chapter was made with the help of a predictive text algorithm designed to churn out phrases similar in style and content to what you’d find in one of the Harry Potter novels it "read." The story isn’t totally nonsensical, though. Twenty human editors chose which AI-generated suggestions to put into the chapter, wrangling the predictive text into a linear(ish) tale.

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                      Some parts are far more simplistic than Rowling would write them, but aren’t exactly wrong with regards to the Harry Potter universe. Like: “Magic: it was something Harry Potter thought was very good.” Indeed he does!

                      It ends with another bit of prose that’s not exactly Rowling’s style, but it’s certainly an accurate analysis of the main current that runs throughout all the Harry Potter books. It reads: “‘I’m Harry Potter,’ Harry began yelling. ‘The dark arts better be worried, oh boy!’”

                      Harry Potter isn’t the only work of fiction that Jamie Brew—a former head writer for ClickHole and the creator of Botnik’s predictive keyboard—and other Botnik writers have turned their attention to. Botnik has previously created AI-generated scripts for TV shows like The X-Files and Scrubs, among other ridiculous machine-written parodies.

                      To delve into all the magical fiction that Botnik users have dreamed up, follow the studio on Twitter.

                      [h/t The Verge]

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