NEW YORK – Steve Harvey played hard-to-get before deciding to become a daytime TV talk-show host.
The veteran comic, whose new show got a jump on the fall season Tuesday, was first approached about a show three years ago when his first book, Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man, was on the best-seller lists. The TV production company Endemol thought the idea of Harvey giving women advice from a man’s point of view made a perfect theme.
Harvey said no, thanks.
One of the original Kings of Comedy thought late-night was a better place for him on TV. Daytime is more sedate. He had a thriving stand-up career he wasn’t ready to give up and a popular morning radio show broadcast across the country. Harvey also thought his suitors were trying to limit him.
They just wanted to make a relationship show and I didn’t think that was rich enough, Harvey said. I don’t think you can do five years, five days a week just talking about who likes who.
Harvey instead signed on as host of the game show Family Feud. His success there made producers want him more, said David Goldberg, chairman and CEO of Endemol North America.
Goldberg tried again, and this time sealed the deal. Steve Harvey is Endemol’s first talk show in the U.S., and it is a tough market with talk shows also starting this fall starring Katie Couric, Ricki Lake and Jeff Probst. Locally, The Steve Harvey Show airs at 4 p.m. on MyFox Fort Wayne, Channel 33.2.
Harvey now feels more comfortable with the idea of trying daytime. He should: There are few surer routes to riches in the television business than a successful syndicated show.
He said he also feels more comfortable asserting himself in molding the show’s direction.
Look, I was leery about being able to maintain who I am, he said. Not so much the edginess, but I really wanted to be frank on TV. I really wanted to say what I say. I’m happy if you’re a guest on my show, but if you sit over there and say something that I don’t think is cool for me or my listeners, I’ve got to reserve the right to say so. Just because you’ve got this book doesn’t mean you’re right about everything.
Harvey said he has pushed show producers to go beyond the theme of his book in exploring ideas. Overprotective parents, adult children who have moved back in with their parents and people who share too much information about their children online are among the topics addressed on Steve Harvey during the show’s first week.
Harvey, a father of seven, can draw on plenty of experiences.
I’ve been unemployed, homeless, had a lot of jobs, been dirt-poor and out of it and been pretty successful, he said. Married a few times, bad credit, good credit, tax troubles, no tax troubles. I’ve just about been through it all. Never been a drug user, but other than that, I’ve had a pretty nice slice of life.
Harvey, 55, is a comedian, but as a talk-show host is not trapped in that persona, Goldberg said. The show really is aimed to entertain, for people to have fun and for people to always come away with something, he said.