Syndicators Vying for Steve Harvey Strip

May 21, 2007  •  Post A Comment

One “King” is looking toward syndication as his next conquest.

Steve Harvey, part of “The Original Kings of Comedy” with Cedric the Entertainer, D.L. Hughley and Bernie Mac, is in line to take on a first-run syndicated series for fall 2008. At least two distributors are “extremely interested” in a show based on the actor-comedian’s radio show, sources said.

The proposed series would take place at “The Steve Harvey Morning Show” in New York, with Mr. Harvey and his colleagues taped behind the microphone, along the lines of Howard Stern’s former series on E!.

The drive-time morning program combines humor and music with visits from celebrities from the entertainment and sports worlds. On the program, Mr. Harvey is joined by Shirley Strawberry, Carla Ferrell and Mr. Harvey’s nephew Tommy.

At a time when few well-known faces are coming to daytime TV, there is a great opportunity for Mr. Harvey to connect with viewers, said Bill Carroll, VP and director of programming for Katz Television.

“Steve Harvey has a proven track record in both radio and television, with a loyal audience that clearly boosts his urban appeal to stations,” Mr. Carroll said.

Executives at various distributors think that while Mr. Harvey’s chances in a tough syndicated marketplace would be solid in daytime, his best match might be at night on a station group like Fox’s MyNetwork affiliates.

Should Mr. Harvey’s series get picked up by a studio, it would join a growing roster of name talent in line for the 2008 season, following a 2007 season featuring a focus on formats over names. Among other celebrities who have already signed, shopped or are expected to be attached to syndication deals for 2008 are comedian-actress Bonnie Hunt, who signed a deal with Telepictures; “Alias” actress Jennifer Garner, who is shopping a motherhood-themed “View” style series; and Rosie O’Donnell.

Mr. Carroll said the 2008-09 season indeed stands to feature a flurry of recognizable names in syndication, unlike recent years.

“Whether it happens or not, and whether it’s successful or not, all depends on if the studios can make the economics work,” he said. “The biggest challenge with significant personalities is that they come with large pricetags.”

Mr. Harvey previously hosted “It’s Showtime at the Apollo” and starred in “The Steve Harvey Show” on the WB from 1996 to 2002, which went into off-network syndication.


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