LOS ANGELES – If you think Steve Harvey is everywhere on television, you’re right. He is.
The host of seven shows, the Emmy winner says he’d add an eighth if it meant more opportunity for his family.
“I don’t need seven shows,” the 60-year-old says. “Just one of these pays enough so that I can have a cool life. But I want my children and their children to see things I didn’t have as a kid. If one more would increase their chances, I would do that, too.”
In the fall, he’ll be represented by “Steve,” an hour-long talk show that hopes to bring late-night sensibilities to daytime.
“Late night was my dream,” Harvey says. “I always wanted to do late night but it wasn’t in the cards, so I did a daytime show.”
The five-year run of the “Steve Harvey” show brought him a wider audience, Emmys and another stock in his celebrity portfolio. But that audience shifted, he says. “There is no more need for takeaway in daytime. People don’t care about the Coupon Queen no more.”
Cooking segments, he says, are so routine they always end with the host complimenting the cook. “Who the hell likes everything they eat that some strange person you don’t even know is cooking?”
Thus, the change.
Harvey hit a saturation point when a guest told him she made a German chocolate cake that was better than his mother’s. “My mama gone. You don’t take a man’s mama that died and then tell him that you can make a cake better than his mama. Now, you make a diet German chocolate cake? She gave it to me and I spit it in a napkin. The audience was mortified…but they started laughing. And that’s it. I’m just an honest guy.”
That same honesty will be a hallmark of “Steve,” even though he’ll be interacting with celebrities, not “regular” people.
“I prefer regular people,” Harvey says. “I’ve never had a guest in five years on my show cancel. Nobody cancels on ‘Family Feud.’ None of the kids on ‘Little Big Shots.’ It’s their shot and they’re coming. Celebrities will say, ‘Oh, tell him I’m not feeling well’ or ‘I got a bigger gig.’ It’s a bit challenging.”
To host those celebs, he says he’s going to follow the lead of Johnny Carson. “You don’t top the guest…you give him a chance to win. Do anything in your power to let your guest shine. If a person is on there selling something, I know the game. You want to get your movie sold. I understand that. But I don’t just want you to pitch your movie. I want you to share something about your life people may not get to know.”
Knowing how and when to react and respond is a Harvey hallmark. It’s why he has those seven shows and why audiences like to watch him. With “Little Big Shots,” he says, he makes sure the risqué jokes go over the kids’ heads and don’t come at their expense.
With “Family Feud,” he reacts the way the audience would. “If you give an answer that is utterly ignorant, why would I turn and point to the board like it got a shot in hell at being up there? It don’t. Just tell the truth.”
While Harvey has been pitched plenty of other series, he is selective.
“I’m not going to do anything that’s not in my wheelhouse,” he says. “Somebody told me the other day, ‘Steve, it seems like everything you touch turns to gold.’ I just said, ‘No, I don’t touch everything. I only do what I know to do.’ I don’t get talked into something that I can’t do.”
The secret to his success is working hard. “I actually care about every minute of the day. I got the same 24 as everybody else. But I have a philosophy: I spent all my time building my dream so that when I get some time I can live my dream.”