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From Mazzio's Pizza Commercials To Being A Celebrity

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Kevin James on CBS' The King Of Queens. Kevin James on CBS' The King Of Queens.
TULSA, Oklahoma -

Comedian Kevin James is playing at the Tulsa Convention Center Sunday night. We remember him in CBS's King of Queens and a number of movie roles.

Bill Hinkle remembers Kevin James as the pitchman he hired to advertise Mazzio's Pizza 14 years ago.

Remember those commercials; they featured Kevin James, before The King of Queens or any of the other characters he's famous for.

The ads were written by Bill Hinkle, a former Tulsa advertising executive.

Today, Hinkle heads up The Ad Program at the University of Tulsa. Fourteen years ago he was the creative director for the Mazzio's Pizza account.

"We want something that's really out there. We need to push the envelope with some really fun creative," said Bill Hinkle.

Hinkle wrote some wacky commercials, then the agency had to find an actor.  At a mass audition of standup comics in Los Angeles, Kevin James showed up wearing the most bizarre outfit.

"Wearing these skin tight coaches shorts, double knit stretchy coaches shorts, a half cropped T-shirt," said Bill Hinkle.

Long white socks pulled up to his knees and a ball cap, Hinkle had found their man. He said James would do anything and he would and did.

In one Mazzio's ad for Stromboli Quattro, James became Stromboli Quattro, the dancer.

"They'd always use him on the major roll-outs of products," said Bill Hinkle.

His favorite memory is perhaps Chuck the Champion Chicken Herder. The chickens freaked Kevin James out.

"He had to hold this chicken and he was petrified," said Bill Hinkle.

The heat from the lights and maybe stage fright, one of the chickens passed out. Well, the chicken survived and so did Kevin James.

James was with Mazzio's for three years and then along came The King of Queens and the rest as they say is...you know what they say.

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