For his cover story in last week's issue of Adweek, Steve Harvey talked about how he juggles four hit TV series (soon to be five) and a radio show, and how he survived his Miss Universe debacle and came out the real winner. But with so many shows and project on his plate, there wasn't space in the magazine for everything that Harvey discussed. Here are the best moments that didn't make it into the story, including Harvey's thoughts on his punishing schedule, why his shows don't always bring in the ad revenue that they should and how he plans to spend his retirement:
Six shows, three cities
Harvey wasn't kidding when he said his mantra is to make every minute count. Filming five TV shows and a radio show requires him to commute between three different cities: Atlanta (his home, where his business offices and radio studio are located, and where he shoots Family Feud 10 weeks each summer, four episodes a day, for 200 shows a season), Chicago (he tapes two episodes of his talk show each Tuesday and Thursday, from late August to May, 140 episodes per year); and Los Angeles (he taped Little Big Shots for a week last October and a weekend in November; Celebrity Family Feud shoots two weekends in March and Dream Funder, his upcoming ABC series, will film on weekends sometime between October and November). And 272 days a year, he records his four-hour morning radio show from whichever location he happens to be in.
Harvey works nonstop—sometimes six or seven days a week—except for three weeks around his wedding anniversary every year, and two weeks at Christmas. He knows that five weeks of vacation sounds like a luxury to some, "but it's 47 weeks of high level intensity on-camera, in your face. It's a lot of pressure right now. I can handle it, because I enjoy what I do. But I don't know how long I'll do all of them." (In the story, he said that he plans to walk away from one of his TV shows: "I do love all of these gigs, but something is going to have to go for sure.")
During his cover interview, Harvey spoke out against the industry's tendency to marginalize him as an entertainer who only appeals to minority audiences. His WB sitcom drew ratings similar to those of other shows on the network, like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, yet received fewer ad dollars because it was deemed a "black" show.
"We've got to stop that. Pay a person for the number they get, and pay the advertising on the show based on the number that show gets. They find a way to cheapen it by saying, 'Well, you've got too many African-Americans watching here, too many Latinos, not enough whites.' They use that just to get a lower rate and that's so unfair, man," said Harvey. "Every corporation has a 'multicultural marketing department,' which is just another word for the blacks and the Mexicans. Really, that's what it is. And that's so ridiculous. Family Feud isn't big because of black people or just white people. Neither was Celebrity [Family Feud], neither is my talk show and now neither is Little Big Shots."
His big stand on Little Big Shots
Harvey said he initially turned down the chance to host NBC's Little Big Shots—his midseason hit show that featured talented kids showing off their skills and trading zingers with him—because early discussions involved "having a winner and a loser," which echoed a bad experience he'd had hosting a kids version of Showtime at the Apollo. "Even though there wouldn't be booing at NBC, how would it look for me to be out there, with six kids and five of them lose? Now you've got a kid sitting there feeling like he's not good enough," Harvey said. "Because you can't tell a 6-year-old why he's not better than the 7-year-old. I just said, 'I don't want to do that.' They said, 'Well, there's got to be some type of payoff.' I said, 'No, there doesn't.'"
(Mike Darnell, president, Warner Bros. unscripted and alternative television, who pursued Harvey for the job, doesn't recall that exchange, and says Little Big Shots "was never, ever perceived as a competition.")
Life after stand-up
Harvey retired from stand-up comedy in 2012, just as he began his daytime talk show, and said that he hasn't looked back. "I do not miss the 90 minutes prior to walking on stage. That 90 minutes before, until the time they call your name, [are] the most sickening minutes. It's the worst feeling and I never got over that fear. It was death, man," he says.
He pointed out that his TV shows "all give me a platform to be funny. The controlled environment of stand-up you can't replace, but situational funny is good, too. I do miss the standing there, hour and a half, 90 minutes, a house laugh every 8-to-12 seconds, and a standing ovation at the end of it. I miss that. But I don't miss the 90 minutes before I walk out."
Ready for retirement
Harvey said that he plans to become a motivational speaker in a few years after his TV shows have run their course, and then he'll finally be ready to retire. At that point, he plans to pass many of his businesses onto his kids (together, he and wife Marjorie have seven of them).
"I've got my new glove plant down in Eufaula, Alabama. That's the only latex manufacturing glove plant in America. I own it, bought it myself. There are new egg companies that I'm opening up down in Alabama. My business with Walmart and Food Lion and Easy Bacon, which is really taking off really nicely," he said. "My kids are going to run those businesses and send me my money on some really big yacht sitting in the middle of the Mediterranean Ocean. And I'm going to be on the back deck, smoking cigars and eating food that I can't pronounce. That's my goal."