When ABC’s newest sitcom “Family Tools” premieres on Wednesday (May 1), it’ll mark Leah Remini‘s return to network comedy after her long-running CBS hit “King of Queens” went off the air in 2007. It’s also the first time Remini’s worked in a single-camera series, as opposed to the traditional three-camera series filmed in front of a live audience that she’s used to.
Remini tells Zap2It that working without an audience took some getting used to. “It’s very depressing because you don’t have people laughing, you know?” she says. “It’s like all you’ve got to do is smile at somebody in the audience or say hello or sign a script and [they scream] and you’re like, ‘I love this!’ You get that validation, you know?”
Silence is golden on a single-camera set, something Remini likens to a funeral. “You’re not allowed to laugh, no one can make a noise when you’re filming, so you get depressed a little bit,” she admits. “You’re like, ‘Am I funny anymore? Have I lost it?’ It’s just an adjustment.”
Though the format took getting used to, Remini says she immediately clicked with her character. In the series, she plays Terry, the sister to J.K. Simmons‘ Tony. After he faces a health crisis, Terry forces him to him to bring his black sheep son Jack (Kyle Bornheimer, “Worst Week”) in to help run the family handyman business.
“What attracted to me about the role is that she’s basically Leah and I’m not really that good of an actress, so I attract to things that I don’t really have to do anything for,” Remini jokes. “You’re going to see Terry being Terry which is very much like Leah, which is thinking she knows everything and starting trouble. And taking care of her family. That’s what I love about her. Ultimately, you can’t be a ball buster if you don’t have heart. That’s in life in general — you have to have redeeming qualities and I think all of her hard edge, she does have a hard edge, but I think in the end, she loves her family and is protecting her family. I love that about her.”
Remini says she and Simmons are the grandma and grandpa of the set, adding that their relationship dynamics mirror those of their characters: “We’re the two old people on the set, and, you know, we’re like standing off to the side, waiting to start a scene, waiting for action, and I’m like, ‘What do you want to eat?’ and he’s like ‘I don’t know, it was crappy yesterday.’ And I’m getting him lunch, and decorating his dressing room, and he’s kicking me out.”
“Family Tools” premieres Wednesday, May 1 on ABC at 8:30 p.m. ET