'Queens' Remini remains without a deal

While most of the TV world is focused on this week’s New York upfronts, a behind-the-scenes battle could be brewing on CBS’ “The King of Queens.”

Laffer, from CBS Prods./Sony, has been renewed for next season, with series star Kevin James on board (with a hefty new salary to boot). But the show’s other star, Leah Remini, doesn’t have a deal — and negotiations don’t seem to be taking place with any particular urgency.

As is usually the case in these matters, money seems to be the main sticking point. Remini is apparently looking for a payday in the neighborhood — but not as much as — of what James makes. Latter thesp is expected to pull down about $500,000 per episode next season.

What makes the “King” renegotiations interesting is the fact that the show is one of the rare comedies with two essentially co-equal leads. Though James plays the title character, Remini takes almost as much airtime as James in most episodes.

Despite this, industry insiders say the Eye’s early offers to Remini have been for substantially less coin that what James will now make.

It would seem that CBS would be hard-pressed to continue “King” without Remini, since unlike the members of ensemble skeins like “CSI,” the heart of “King” is the relationship between the two leads. One industry vet, however, joked that perhaps producers could work up a new storyline with “Kevin exploring the joys of being single.”

It’s expected negotiations could heat up after Memorial Day, with most insiders optimistic that there’s ultimately a deal to be made.

Eye and reps for Remini declined comment.

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