Steve Harvey stands in the center of the stage of his new daytime talk show, waiting for the director’s cue. A brief glitch with a light has necessitated a pause between taping promotional spots for affiliate TV stations. The timeout has turned into an impromptu stand up routine. “I have to do this, I have to keep talking,” he tells the crew. “It’s how I keep loose.” Despite standing in front of six cameras, Harvey couldn’t look more comfortable – or feel like more of a natural for the talk landscape.
For good reason. The 55-year-old entertainer – one of the Original Kings of Comedy – brings a rich resume of credits to his new job, including stand-up comic, sitcom star (“The Steve Harvey Show“), radio host, bestselling author, husband, and father. Harvey recently retired his stand-up comedy act (you can watch his final performance, “Steve Harvey’s Grand Stand-Up Finale” on XFINITY On Demand) in order to focus on his talk show, which debuts September 4. “I couldn’t be more excited and ready,” he says.
Set your DVR to record Steve’s new talk show here.
Although Harvey resides in Atlanta, we caught up with him in his new studio located in the heart of downtown Chicago, where he has chosen to tape his show. We may have also been the first to sit in the plush white chairs in the center of the stage.
How does the chair feel? Comfortable.
Obvious question: why are you doing a daytime talk show? It’s been on the bucket list for quite some time. Not really daytime, but just a talk show. At first I thought I wanted it to be late night. I have thought about it since Arsenio Hall went off the air. But as my brand changed and I changed, I became more conducive for daytime television. I’m happily married now. I have a beautiful blended family. I absolutely adore my wife. My book, Act Like A Lady, Think Like A Man, has turned me into a champion of women’s causes. And so as all of those developments in my life that kind of grew me up, daytime became a better place for me.
Where do you fit into the current daytime talk landscape? I fit in really nicely, I think, because I come with a unique set of qualifications. First of all, there is not a lot of male perspective in daytime television. That’s unique. And there is not a lot of funny in daytime television. Outside of Ellen [DeGeneres], that’s maybe it. And that will be a lot of what we do – a lot of funny talk, a lot of inspirational uplifting things. We are not going to reinvent the wheel for daytime, but I’ll tell you what, we’ll have a spin on it that nobody else can put the spin on five days a week. When it’s time to be serious, we’ll be serious. But for the most part I believe in laughter man. I believe the laughter is such a great medicine. It heals a lot of stuff.
Why are you doing the show in Chicago? Contractually, we could have did it in my home in Atlanta. But the landscape for Chicago is so right for daytime TV. Ever since Phil Donahue. They’ve been trained to come here for daytime TV. Then they lost the queen, Oprah, and then they lost Rosie. Jerry Springer is not even here. So there was a big void here. I wanted to come and put it back. Chicago wanted us here. They lobbied and I said, yeah, I’ll go.
What is the show going to focus on? Everyday people. Real people. This is not a celebrity driven show at all. We will have celebrities from time to time, if we get some special requests. But we are going to focus on everyday people just like Family Feud. I have done over 500 episodes of Family Feud and never once has there been a family who has cancelled. Not one time. I think regular people are far more interesting. They are more open. They will tell you more of the true stuff about themselves. Celebrities, we can’t do that. We are going to tell you what our publicist tells us, and we’ll tell you stuff that protects our brand. That’s it. You get more of a takeaway when you hear from people who are very much similar to you. And then as a host, I think being married, I think having a wife, I think having children and the male perspective, that combination on daytime is going to be a pretty nice change of pace.
Do you have a dream show? Or dream guests? The dream guest for me – you won’t believe this and I know it is going to sound corny – but it’sCeline Dion. I would love to have her on the show. And then just let her sing. I think she’s the artist that covers the most ground. I don’t know nobody that don’t like her. And I heard she’s a fan of mine. So if Celine would come on the show, it would really lay me out. I would love to get that feather in my hat to have the first one to have Jay-Z and Beyonce on. That would be huge, because they have done none of that, you know. I know them but I wouldn’t push that. I would also love to sit down and have a talk with Tiger Woods. If I could get him on the show, that would be a great conversation.
Do you see yourself asking questions that you think your audience wants to know or that you want to know? It’s a combination. You have got to play to the people because that’s who make you. I want to give the people what they want to know. But in my gut I’ll always have a unique line of questioning. I know how to go around the back door a little bit to make it a little easier to answer the question. My guests will still give up the information but I’m not a reporter so they won’t feel the dig of a reporter. They’ll feel they’re talking to a friend.
Who’s your talk show for? Who do you see watching? Everybody. It is really for everybody. I know that sounds corny, but I’m a general market guy. I’ve always owned the urban community. That has never been a problem. But I think what people have discovered is I’m very general market. From Good Morning America to the book to the movie and the seminars that I give around the country. I’m very accessible and open to everyone. And I think I am going to bring a lot of men to daytime television. They are going to tune in to see what is this guy going to say today. I want them thinking, he’s going to say something that is way out there man, that we can’t get back. It is going to be true. It is going to be his opinion and it is going to be funny. And I can’t miss it.
What about women? I expect a huge number of women to tune in. That’s going to be my general makeup. Women are going to come see me because I’m going to be that voice for them. I’ll be like, I got that you feel that way ladies, but let me tell you how men really feel on the subject. And I’m right about it, because I’m a man and I know how we think. So I got what you’re saying, I got what you want. This is how a man approaches that. I think that’s a unique perspective on daytime.