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Oprah 2.0? Steve Harvey nets strong ratings with ‘inspiration'

Six months into his new gig hosting a daytime TV talk show, comedian and actor Steve Harvey is already pulling ratings on par with Katie Couric. The success of the eponymous “Steve Harvey” show is so noteworthy, in fact, that a prominent entertainment industry publication has even compared Harvey’s early success to what a young Oprah Winfrey wrought once upon a time.

In Monday’s New York Times, reporter Brian Stelter wrote, “While Ms. Couric and Ms. Winfrey, now on her own cable channel, compete for boldface-name interviews, Mr. Harvey gravitates toward normal-people stories, relationship advice and inspiration (‘Harvey’s Heroes’ is a recurring segment), much as Ms. Winfrey’s show did in the 1980s and ’90s. Ms. Winfrey must like what she’s seen because she agreed to appear on Mr. Harvey’s show this month, an implicit endorsement. Their conversation will be televised at the end of April.”

On March 15, The Hollywood Reporter published an online article about Harvey beneath the Web headline, “Is Steve Harvey the next Oprah?” The piece opens with a scene of Harvey addressing his studio audience in mid-September, at one of the early tapings of his daytime talk show.

“ ‘My mother was a Sunday school teacher,’ he tells the rapt audience of about 160 people, there to bask in the firm-but-loving aura of ‘Steve Harvey.’ ‘So I am a byproduct of prayer. My mom just kept on praying for her son. My mom passed, so she didn't get to see this. This show is about empowering people. But it's also entertainment. Because look, you've got enough problems. CNN, Headline News, Fox News — they give you the bad news. I don't have none of that fer ya. We gonna laugh at some stuff, we gonna tackle some issues. But listen, everything ain't life or death.’ ”

Ebony published an article Friday about Harvey’s charitable efforts to foster mentoring within the African American community: “Steve Harvey, along with his wife, Marjorie Harvey, are pushing forward with their joint initiative to help promote mentorship in the Black community by bringing their Steve Harvey Mentoring Campaign to the New York metropolitan area. … The campaign works alongside local organizations to create and further expand mentoring relationships between young African American boys and Black men.”



Jamshid Ghazi Askar is a graduate of BYU's J. Reuben Clark Law School and member of the Utah State Bar. Contact him at jaskar@desnews.com or 801-236-6051.

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