- Associated Press - Monday, September 3, 2012

NEW YORK (AP) - Steve Harvey played hard-to-get before deciding to become a daytime television talk-show host.

The veteran comic, whose new show gets 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 television 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-ever talk show in the U.S., and it is competing in a tough market with new talk shows also starting this fall starring Katie Couric, Ricki Lake and Jeff Probst. A partnership with NBC’s top stations, where Harvey’s show will air back-to-back with Ellen DeGeneres, gives him a fighting chance.

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. One that he’s borrowed from his radio show is about forgiveness, asking people carrying a longtime grudge to unburden themselves.

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.”

He wrote his book on the advice of his daughters, who would be mortified when Harvey would give the third-degree to their dates but have come to learn _ even if it took some time _ that dad’s assessments were spot on.

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