Kevin James, co-star of the "Hitch" Movie!
Currently starring on, and co-producing CBS's comedy series "King of Queens". James made the transition into television after being discovered at the 1996 Montreal Comedy Festival, where he signed a development deal to create his own show. He was also cast in a recurring role on EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND with his friend and fellow comic Ray Romano. Also a successful standup comedian, James was inspired by comedic idols such as Robert Klein and Jerry Seinfeld. James starred in his own one-hour comedy special, "Sweat the Small Stuff" on Comedy Central, and he makes regular appearances on the LATE SHOW WITH DAVID LETTERMAN. He tours the country performing his standup act. Entertainment Weekly took note of his comedic talent, naming him one of The 100 Most Creative People in Entertainment in its 2001 "It" issue. James will be seen in the upcoming "Last First Kiss" with Will Smith and Eva Mendes. James will also voice the lead character, Otis, in the upcoming Nick Movies feature "The Barnyard." He was born in Mineola, New York, and raised in Stony Brook, New York. His birthdate is April 26, 1965. He attended Cortland University where he played fullback on the football team while majoring in sports management. He realized after 3 years that this wasn't the path for him. After returning home he decided to go back home and to break up the monotony of the summer he joined a community theater. During a play in which he had a comedic role, he so enjoyed the crowd reaction, that he joined his brother's (comedian Gary Valentine) improv group. He began going to clubs with Gary and realized he, too, had the knack for comedy. He has performed standup up for about 11 years. It was on the comedy circuit that he met Ray Romano. While Ray was getting a big break with his own sitcom, Kevin was getting recognition on Star Search. After appearing on The Tonight Show, his big break came at the 1996 "Just for Laughs" Montreal Comedy Festival. Afterward he landed a recurring role on Ray's sitcom, "Everybody Loves Raymond". He has since received his own sitcom "The King of Queens".
From April 2000 - Kevin lives in an L.A. bachelor pad with his brother, Gary Valentine, who is also a stand-up comedian. In June 1999 and 2000, Kevin James hosted the Florida Sports Awards, the official sports award show for the state of Florida, in Jacksonville, Fla. This event raises funds for the Otis F. Smith Foundation. Kevin was on the Ward Melville High wrestling team with future wrestling legend Mick Foley. Ironically, Foley also attended Cortland University.
He met his wife on a blind date arranged by his interior decorator. In June 19, 2004 he married his longtime girlfriend, model Steffiana De La Cruz, before 200 friends - including Ray Romano - and family members in Dana Point, California. Kevin James is a New York Jets fan.
His show "King of Queens" is a spin-off of "Everybody Loves Raymond" and he says that no matter how successful he or his show get, he will continue to do stand-up. His show "King of Queens" is NOT a spin-off of "Everybody Loves Raymond." They just do crossovers and Kevin made guest appearences as a different character before he got his show. That's correct. On Raymond, Kevin played a character named Kevin. Ray has made guest appearances on King of Queens as Ray Barone. Patricia Heaton also appeared as Debra Barone.
Kevin James is number 89 on the all time lists of Comics!
Kevin James uses smooth moves to hijack 'Hitch'
Usher has crunking, Michael Jackson has the moonwalk and Kevin James has the Q-Tip.
James is in Hitch, which is about a romance coach for the dateless played by Will Smith. But, for about five minutes, Hitch is hijacked by the James Klutzatronic Dance Machine. His character demonstrates his pathetic dance moves for Smith, including an ear-fingering gesture called the Q-Tip and a hand-rubbing motion called Starting the Fire. All are rejected.
"You just look at me, and you know I can throw it down, right? Me and getting the ladies — you can see how smooth I am," jokes James, star of TV's The King of Queens, calling from a New York hotel. "Those are pretty much my own moves, which is pretty sad. That was my calling card with the ladies, back in the day. That was what I had to work with — that out-of-control thing, sort of like onions falling out of a bag."
Smith and James improvised the dance scene (they did lots of stuff that's not in the movie but could be on the DVD), something James says many stars wouldn't go for. "Some actors would see another supporting actor getting laughs and would shut it down immediately," says James, declining to name names. "But Will encouraged it."
The two were friends first, after a Queens writer introduced them and they played golf. Smith said they should work together; James figured it was one of those when-pigs-fly situations. But Smith called and James said yes to a tiny role that, over the course of a movie's worth of improvised scenes, ended up being not-so-tiny. James was thrilled because, despite six years on a hit sitcom, the movie offers were not exactly pouring in. They weren't exactly even trickling in.
"It's hard to knock down doors, even if you've been on a TV show for a while," says James. "It's such a difficult transition to make, as you can tell from all the TV actors who tried and didn't make it in movies."
When James heard from Smith, he had just lost the lead in the next film from Mike Judge, who wrote and directed Office Space. At the time, he was bummed not to get the gig. Now, he's thrilled he wasn't chosen because it would have prevented him from doing Hitch.
Speaking about his collaboration with Smith, James uses the playing-against-someone-who's-better-than-you-makes-you-better sports metaphor. The difference is, when he says working with Smith is the comedy equivalent of playing golf with Tiger Woods, James isn't speaking metaphorically. He actually has played golf with Tiger Woods, and tips from Woods actually did make him better. Same goes for Smith, who helped him figure out the whole movie thing.
With Hitch in theaters, King of Queens about to wrap shooting for the season and a couple of movies already completed (including a comedy that pairs him with mentor Ray Romano), James is looking at what's next. He's not sure what it'll be, but it's a good bet it will find him playing a character unlike the ones in Queens and Hitch, both of whom are lovable, self-deprecating klutzes.
"Rob Burnett, the producer of Letterman, told me you watch a movie for two reasons. Either it's like a James Bond movie, where you see him do things you'll never do, or it's a character who's a lot like you, so you relate to him," says James. "That's more what I've been doing, but, believe me, my agents and everybody are going, 'We need to go in a different direction. Let's do something where Kevin is not the fat guy, tripping over his suitcase.'"
Even if James stays vertical for the entire film, don't expect him to be too suave.
"The way I look at it is when you expose yourself to America and beyond, like I do on King of Queens, where the humiliating stuff is often part of what's funny or endearing about the character, I have no problem with that," says James. "It's good to show you have faults and you look like an idiot some of the time, because we all do."
Kevin James: Love Will find a way
They lean forward and gaze into each other's eyes. Anticipation builds as their lips gently pucker.
Suddenly, Kevin James, TV's King of Queens, dives in and lays a dainty peck on the mouth of a shocked Will Smith. Cinema's king of the summer blockbuster recoils in mock disgust as he yells, "What the hell was that?"
The initial reaction of the New Yorkers who witnessed the filming of the smooch lesson gone awry for the courtship caper Hitch, opening Friday, wasn't much kinder.
"They had no idea what the movie was, no idea what the scene was," recalls Smith, who chuckles while seated in a high-rise eatery with a Central Park view the day after the movie's premiere. "All they see is me out on the corner kissing Kevin James. And this black dude screams out, 'Will, no! Uh-uh. Don't do that. Whatcha doing, Will?' "
Making amends, for one. The image-conscious actor came to regret his refusal to kiss a man as a gay hustler in 1993's Six Degrees of Separation, his breakout film that followed the popular sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and chart success as a rap artist.
But in these queer-eyed days, same-sex spit-swapping is de rigueur.
"It took someone like me to turn him," jokes James, who shines as a timid accountant who pines for Amber Valletta's stunning socialite. "I minted more for that kiss than the one with Amber."
Smith also is out to score some laughs. Much to the delight of his female admirers, the buff-and-polished action hero is finally starring in a romantic comedy. In Hitch, he's a lover, not a fighter. There are no aliens to battle. No androids gone amok. No big guns, bad guys or pug dogs wailing disco classics.
Instead, the relationship romp is overrun with hapless males in desperate need of guidance on matters of the heart. That is where Smith's Hitch comes in. His job is to coach woeful Romeos so they can impress unattainable Juliets. Meanwhile, Hitch must conquer his own commitment fears when he gets an itch for a sassy gossip columnist.
Eva Mendes, who plays the tabloid tattler, says of Smith, "God, he's so sexy. Women are going to respond to him in a different way. You really see his vulnerability."
Today, he's attired to inspire such thoughts in an urban preppy getup of Lacoste pullover and baggy jeans. The final touch: the multi-carat diamond rocks that anchor his unmistakable stuck-out ears.
"It was strange for me, stripping it down to essentially just talking," says Smith, 36, of his genre switch. "No blue screens, nothing. To perform honestly and emotionally with a robot, that's a skill I've developed. But I love the interaction between Eva and me. I'm so at home in that romantic space."
His action days are waning
As his melon-sized biceps prove, he's also at home in the gym, lifting weights and running. But the routine can be a grind. "I'm going to stay in shape for about four more years," he vows between bites of bread. "Then I'm letting it all go. I'm going for the guy-with-the-gut roles. Soon as I'm 40, I'm going to stop watching what I eat."
This sci-fi junkie, who turned down a chance to go to MIT to pursue a music career, is smart enough to know that aging action heroes carry an expiration date. There are two paths to safeguarding your status: You can either mix it up as even Vin Diesel is doing in the upcoming comedy The Pacifier. Or run for governor of California, a post currently filled.
Smith also is reviving his hip-hop pursuits. His first solo album in nearly three years, Lost and Found, is due March 29.
This $20-million-a-movie club member, who also is a producer on Hitch, can afford a change of pace. A true superstar whose hot-weather outings have grossed more than $1 billion, he has ruled the July 4 box office on a regular basis since 1996's Independence Day. Now he's ready to set off a different kind of fireworks while seducing this weekend's Valentine's Day date crowd.
"Hitch is who I am," Smith assures. That would include the film's awkward college flashback in which the West Philly native exposes his inner Urkel. "Mike Lowrey from Bad Boys is my alter ego," he says, referring to his slick lady-killer detective. "That is who I dream of being."
He and his actress wife of seven years, Jada Pinkett Smith, go so far as to offer Hitch-style counseling to friends and family. "Jada and I study relationships. I am a student of male-female interaction."
Women likely will relish the sight of the Fresh Prince charming his way through love's pitfalls and pratfalls. But Sony, the studio behind Hitch, isn't taking any chances. Millions were invested in a Super Bowl ad to convince fans of his brawnier fare that their masculinity won't be compromised. "People generally look at romantic comedies as chick flicks. This one is not that," says Smith, who balances cutting up with James with canoodling with Mendes.
Kevin James stars in the new comedy movie ''Hitch''
the movie Hitch hitting theaters Feb. 11. This movie is a romantic comedy starring none other than Will Smith (Alex "Hitch" Hitchens) and Kevin James (Albert).
Both actors are well known in the comedic circle. Will Smith for his infamous show "Fresh Prince" and Kevin James for his sitcom "King of Queens." Hitch is well known for being a "love doctor" and attempts to show Albert the ins and outs of dating with finesse and swagger.
In the process, Hitch finds himself falling in love against all his bachelor philosophies. Hitch is certain to be comedy filled with a touch of tugging heartstrings. With this film being so close to Valentine's Day, it is the perfect date film.
TV stars slip into big-screen roles
This year's winter movie lineup is shaping up as the "Battle of the Network Stars."
Will & Grace's Debra Messing, The King of Queens' Kevin James and WB prank-host Jamie Kennedy are among the TV actors trying to transform some of their broadcast fame into box office clout.
"It's the first time that I'm carrying a film, and that's certainly new and a little scary and very exciting," says Messing, who makes her leading-lady debut Friday in the comedy The Wedding Date. "I'm aware other people will be assessing ... whether or not the film works creatively, whether it works financially and whether they're interested in working with me in the future."
The coldest months of the year can heat up a TV actor's movie career. For one thing, expectations for a movie's performance are lower in January and February, typically a dumping ground for lesser movies amid the Oscar hopefuls.
"If you do it at a time when the competition is not at its peak, it gives you more opportunity to be seen," says Henry Schafer of Marketing Evaluations Inc., which provides "Q ratings" that rank the popularity of celebrities for advertisers and studios.
That strategy worked for Saturday Night Live's Will Ferrell in 2003's Old School, and That '70s Show regular Ashton Kutcher with last year's The Butterfly Effect. But it proved that not everybody loved Ray Romano when his Welcome to Mooseport flopped last February.
Already this winter, That '70s Show's Topher Grace has had success with In Good Company, rebounding from last year's dud Win a Date With Tad Hamilton! But Alias star Jennifer Garner followed her 2004 spring hit 13 Going on 30 with Elektra, a fizzle this January.
"It's a big-time test," says Kennedy, who goes from TV's The Jamie Kennedy Experiment to Son of the Mask, opening Feb. 18. "I'm scared out of my mind. I'm up for a couple movies, and nobody is ready to pull the trigger until they see what this does."
King of Queens' James, who plays opposite Will Smith in Hitch next week, says he felt safer playing the sidekick in his first big movie role.
"If you're out there alone and the film doesn't do that well, you might not get a second shot," James says. "For anybody who wants to break into film, I would highly recommend that they get themselves a Will Smith."