'King of Queens' sitcom rules Germany

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COLOGNE, Germany -- The final episode of "The King of Queens" ruled supreme on German TV Monday night, drawing 2.5 million viewers for 16.4% market share among 14- to 49-year-olds, an almost unheard-of figure for a U.S. sitcom here.

"Queens'" swan song marked the end of a very particular German success story. While U.S. sitcom giants from "Seinfeld" to "Friends" to "Everyone Loves Raymond" have failed as anything other than niche programming here, Kevin James and "King of Queens" are household names in Germany.

The series has been a hit since it debuted here in March 2001 -- first as a stripped weekly series and then in primetime. Monday night's final episode drew 8% of the total viewing public, twice the average for "Queens'" German channel Kabel1.

The show has made James a star from Bonn to Berlin. In 2005, the actor took his fame to a new level with the romantic comedy "Hitch," in which James played a luckless nerd alongside Will Smith's silver-tongued date doctor. The movie was a massive hit in Germany, selling 4.2 million tickets for a €25.5 million ($36.1 million) boxoffice gross.

Universal made James a main focus of its German campaign for "I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry," a tacit acknowledgment that, in these parts, the heavyweight comedian is better known than Adam Sandler.

The strategy seemed to have paid off. Despite its very U.S.-centric themes (the gay marriage debate, health insurance) "Chuck & Larry" opened at No. 1 in Germany. "King of Queens" or not, it seems, James' German reign continues.
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