Sketchy things everyone just ignores about Kevin James

Thanks to his role as Doug Heffernan on the popular CBS sitcom King of Queens, Kevin James earned himself a reputation in Hollywood as the "Everyman" actor with parts in Paul Blart: Mall Cop, Grown Ups, and The Zookeeper. He's also well-known as a clean comedian who doesn't use profanity or provocative material in his stand-up routine. And while that seems like the makings of a squeaky clean celebrity, a rarity in Hollywood, James is no stranger to controversy and has demonstrated behavior during his career that seems pretty questionable.

He got Erinn Hayes fired from Kevin Can Wait

In 2016, James returned to CBS with a new sitcom Kevin Can Wait. While the comedy about a retired police officer adapting to civilian life made a strong debut, it did not go over well with critics like New York magazine who flat-out called it "terrible and unimaginative." Others couldn't help but notice it's similarity to King of Queens.

But after CBS renewed the show for a second season to find its footing, James made a surprising move and had his TV wife Erinn Hayes fired from the show. "What's even stranger is how integral Hayes' character is to the series. Kevin Can Wait is very much a family comedy that features a happy, stable, 20-year marriage at its center. Ditching one of two key characters in this dynamic is odd," Decider wrote. Even stranger is the promotion to series regular for Leah Remini who famously played James' TV wife on King of Queens and guest-starred on Kevin Can Wait. It seems an awful lot like the show is trying to become a retread of Queens even though the dynamic with Hayes made Kevin Can Wait the "No. 1 new comedy," according to HuffPost.

And this wasn't the first time James had caused problems with the creative direction of the show.

The Kevin Can Wait showrunner quit because of him

Shortly after Kevin Can Wait debuted, CBS gave it a full season order, which was great news for everyone involved. The show had strong ratings for its premiere episode and it even pulled off the impressive rate of going up in Week 2. Except things went sideways when showrunner Bruce Helford quit over "creative differences with James," according to Deadline, which must've taken a lot because Helford had previously worked with Hollywood bad boy Charlie Sheen on Anger Management and still managed to take the show all the way to syndication.

How bad could James be to work with? An interesting anecdote from Remini might shed some more light.

He groped Leah Remini the first time he met her

Ever since she left the Church of Scientology, Leah Remini has made numerous headlines thanks to her ongoing efforts to expose the shady side of the controversial religion famously practiced by Tom Cruise and John Travolta. She became the subject of several interviews, and in a sitdown with BuzzFeed in 2014, Remini shared stories about her early days in acting and how she ended up on King of Queens. And while Remini clearly meant for the following anecdote to be endearing towards James, it seems kind of sketchy.

"I think he called me a nasty name and grabbed my t*t in the first 30 seconds," Remini said. "From that point on, I was hooked. There was just something in his eyes that was indescribable; I fell in love with him."

Whoa! Again, Remini obviously seems to think nothing of it and continues to work with James, but we're not quite sure how to feel about introducing yourself to a potential co-star for a network sitcom by groping her during the first meeting. That really doesn't say much about James' views on women, which not surprisingly, are a tad questionable.

His views on women are a tad outdated

When it comes to sexism in Hollywood, James has appeared in a number of projects where he plays a fun-loving husband with a nagging or personality-less wife, according to Salon. He also seems to be paired with remarkably attractive actresses, which has made him the butt of several jokes by comedian Amy Schumer who, Variety reports, often compares James' career as a stocky comedian to her own.

In James' defense, he didn't invent sexism in Hollywood, and the problem has plagued the industry long before he became a star. However, Kevin Can Wait certainly isn't helping things. "All the sitcom tropes that feel like they should be a thing of the past are here," writes Jen Chaney for Vulture, "the gratuitous laugh track; the nagging, much hotter wife (Erinn Hayes, forced to punch below her comedic weight after her run on Children's Hospital); the man-boy husband who can't be bothered to rake leaves, pay attention to his kids' behavioral problems, or eat fewer than four burgers in one sitting; and dialogue that sounds like it came from a spec script written in the early '90s."

Again, while sexism isn't unique to James, he is the creative force behind Kevin Can Wait to the point where showrunners have to follow his lead and he's making sweeping changes like firing Hayes from the show. So he's not entirely innocent of the questionable portrayal of women.

His brother was involved in a shady situation

James has been helping his brother Gary Valentine since his days on King of Queens. Oddly, neither brother goes by their real last name of Knipfing, and Valentine seems to hide that he's related to James even though he's in almost every single one of his movies and television shows. Just take a look at Valentine's IMDb page. It's nearly identical to James'. But just like James didn't invent sexism, he also didn't invent nepotism, which isn't uncommon in Hollywood.

However, in 2011, Valentine was involved in a pretty shady situation in which he sued a woman who accused him of sexual assault. TMZ reports that Valentine admits that he had "mutually consensual" relations with the woman. However, according to Valentine's suit, the woman had a boyfriend and allegedly lied to him and the police by claiming Valentine assaulted her. The police allegedly found her claims to be "groundless," at least according to Valentine's suit, which is the only version of events available. In fact, the whole story stops cold after TMZ's reporting, so no one really knows what happens, and Valentine could be entirely innocent.

I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry is pretty homophobic

In 2007, James and Sandler starred in I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry, a comedy about two New York City firefighters who pretend to be a married gay couple so James' character, a recent widower, can make sure his kids have access to his life insurance? (We just now realized that's a really weird plot.) The movie ultimately ends with a unifying message of respect that was enough for a GLAAD to give it a pass, according to Entertainment Weekly. However, GLAAD did have issues with the "expected stereotypes," and years later, Uproxx would call the movie "blatantly homophobic."

"It'd be equally silly to deny that a goodly percentage of the 115 preceding minutes — Yes, this movie is obscenely long — are mostly about Kevin James and Adam Sandler's characters making it clear that in order for Chuck and Larry to do some silly thing involving life insurance, they have to lower themselves in the most humiliating way they can imagine, by pretending to be a gay couple," writes Daniel Fienberg. "What follows is a string of 'Being gay is gross' and 'Having people think you're gay is gross' farce, punctuated by 'If you're gay, you can get ultra-close to hot women' ickiness."

Of course, this is par for the course for Sandler whose movies that James often appear in are laced with homophobic moments, according to The Advocate. Granted, James has never publicly spoken against the gay community, he doesn't seem to have an issue with making them a punchline.

He makes Adam Sandler movies

Thanks to I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry, James became a regular in Sandler's movies, which have routinely been called out for homophobia and sexism. In an attempt to bring light to how Sandler's movies view women behind the scenes, actress Rose McGowan was dropped by her agent after she tweeted a casting note for a role she auditioned for that would've had her star next to a "Madam Panhandler," according to Today.

"Wardrobe Note: Black (or dark) form fitting tank that shows off cleavage (push up bras encouraged)," read the note. "And form fitting leggings or jeans. Nothing white."

McGowan would later note that Sandler isn't the only one she was targeting, and that the casting note was "institutionalized stupidity" that is "normal to so many people." Including James who's been a willing participant and has continued to show questionable views towards women in his latest sitcom Kevin Can Wait.

That controversial photo with Selena Gomez

Shortly before the McGowan incident, another actress had unwittingly highlighted the problem with Hollywood sexism that James has continued to be at the center of. During the Hotel Transylvania 2 premiere in Mexico, Selena Gomez showed up to the red carpet dressed to the nines in a stunning red dress complete with hair and make-up. James and Sandler, on the other hand, showed up looking like just they rolled out of bed in sweatpants and shorts respectively.

Yahoo! Style called red carpet photos of the three "everything wrong with Hollywood's sexist standards." While Entertainment Tonight wondered, "Could the former Disney star ever show up to a premiere looking as casual as Adam and Kevin, and not be ridiculed?" It was yet another example of James and his creative partner Sandler showing that they're not overly concerned with how women are treated in Hollywood. Or in general.

He's allegedly a jerk to fans

Take these with a grain of a salt, but there are internet reports that allege James isn't exactly the greatest to people just trying to do their jobs. According to a commenter on the Reddit thread "What's your 'never meet your heroes' story," while James was at a restaurant in Connecticut with Vince Vaughn, he wouldn't even let a waitress ask him for his drink order. "You were told not to talk to me directly," James allegedly told her.

Another commenter claimed that he got a chance to visit the King of Queens set, and James refused to acknowledge him the entire time. Even while they were standing right next to each other! In another incident, a commenter who worked at a car dealership near the set of Grown Ups claims that all the employees were specifically told by management "not to even look" at James while he was buying a car.

Again, these are just internet rumors. And just like James didn't invent sexism in Hollywood, he wouldn't be the first celebrity who's not exactly accommodating when it comes to meeting in fans in public.

Kevin can learn

Despite his reputation as an Everyman comedian that the Average Joe can relate to, James also represents outdated thinking on women, gays, and treating fans with respects if random encounters are to be believed. But as he finds his footing with Kevin Can Wait, James controversial firing of his TV wife could be the start of forging a less stereotypical direction for the show as he's once again teamed up with the fiery and independent Leah Remini. And maybe it's a step in a new direction for James himself as he learns that what worked in the past, might not go over so well in the future. The world's changing, and we're hoping James can change along with it.