Comedian Steve Harvey is one of the most successful daytime talk show hosts of today. He's also a best-selling author, host of a radio show with 6 million listeners, and is now reviving the ailing game show "Family Feud." In a profile in the March 29 issue of the Hollywood Reporter, Harvey reveals that he has done all of this despite knowing that "Hollywood is still very racist."
"That Harvey could dramatically turn the fortunes of 'Feud' and succeed in daytime where failure is the default -- and the fact that the average African-American spends close to 47 hours a week watching live TV, more than the U.S. average (34 hours), Hispanics (28 hours) and Asians (21 hours), according to Nielsen -- has spurred industry players to say they are on the hunt for 'someone like Steve Harvey' to front their latest programming pitch. Or, in other, less coded words, 'We need a black host.' "
But, "To say Steve Harvey is succeeding because he's black is just racist," says "Family Feud" distributor Debmar-Mercury co-president Ira Bernstein. "He's an extraordinary talent. 'Feud' is not successful because Steve Harvey is black.' "
According to Harvey, "Hollywood is more racist than America is. They put things on TV that they think the masses will like. Well, the masses have changed. The election of President Obama should prove that. And television should look entirely different. ['Scandal' star] Kerry Washington should not be the first African-American female to head up a drama series in 40 years. In 40 years! That's crazy."
However, while he acknowledges that he's had to navigate a career around the biases of Hollywood, his race is not the focus of his work:
" 'I never mention color in my books,' says Harvey. 'My show is not an African-American show.' In fact, more than half of Harvey's daytime audience is white. 'I'm not beating people over the head; I'm black, we black! And that's how I look at it,' he continues. 'I'm not going to let them put me in a box and pigeonhole me.'