From the New York Times:
Let’s review Steve Harvey’s year. (This may take a while.) His syndicated radio show has an audience of six million, and President Obama has been one of his guests. A version of the show appears in prime time on the Centric cable channel. He became the host of the long-running “Family Feud” game show. His advice book “Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man” spent a good part of the past two years on The New York Times’s hardcover advice best-seller list, was No. 1 for 23 weeks, and is being made into a movie by Screen Gems. The recently published sequel, “Straight Talk, No Chaser,” had an initial printing of 750,000 copies and makes its debut at No. 1 on the advice list on Sunday.
It’s not going out on a limb to say that Mr. Harvey has never been more popular — and he is not exactly a stranger to the spotlight. He has appeared on television before, in his own sitcom and as host of a variety show, and he was for years a successful stand-up comedian. But it is the books that have landed him on “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” “Ellen” and “Good Morning America.” His turn as a relationship adviser is not a complete career reinvention, it is a definitely a dramatic redefinition.
Mr. Harvey has become “a legitimate, genuine American media star,” said Michael Harrison, the publisher of Talkers magazine, which covers the radio business. “He’s a successful radio host for the African-American community, and he’s multicultural.” It’s the goal of any contemporary radio host, Mr. Harrison said, “to not be just a radio personality, but to be a television personality, an author or a newsmaker.”
Even with Mr. Harvey’s new profile, some people sure seem to be mad at him, and the object of that anger is the phenomenally successful “Act Like a Lady,” which has sold 1.2 million copies, according to BookScan, whose figures do not include sales at some mass-market retailers like Wal-Mart.
“I was shocked by his misogynistic views on love and marriage,” wrote one commenter on Amazon.com.
Another wrote: “The book is sexist, stereotyping all men into knuckle-dragging, sports-loving hunters that just need a little sex to keep them happy.” (The book elicited nearly 900 customer reviews on Amazon.)
Mr. Harvey said he was unfazed.
“You know, I’ve been in front of people for a lot of years,” he said after an appearance at a Manhattan Barnes & Noble this month. “I’ve told a lot of jokes I thought were hysterical that weren’t as funny as I thought. I’ve been getting criticism for quite some time. I don’t expect everybody to agree or understand. I get it. It’s O.K.”
“Act Like a Lady” offers conversational counsel on topics like “The Three Things Every Man Needs” (“Support, Loyalty and the Cookie,” cookie being Mr. Harvey’s term for sex); “The Five Questions Every Woman Should Ask Before She Gets in Too Deep” (“No. 4: What Do You Think About Me?”); and “The 90-Day Rule,” the time he says should be required before a woman will agree to have sex with a man.
Mr. Harvey, 53, said the appeal of “Act Like a Lady” and ”Straight Talk” is that he tells “the truth.”
“I do understand what’s missing for women,” he said, “and I do understand that a lot of times as guys we are not capable of filling in what’s missing. The problem is women want their love returned the same way they give it out. That’s pretty lofty expectations to put on a guy, and we don’t have it in our DNA to give it to you like that.”
The advice in the books, he said, is based on what he learned in his own life: “It took me two marriages to really get it in my head, ‘Steve, you’re messing this up because you’re getting ticked at these women who want all this stuff from you, and you’re saying: ‘Hey, this is enough. I’m doing this. What do you want?’ I spent two marriages going, ‘What do you want?’ ”
Mr. Harvey said that his children were another source of inspiration.
“I have daughters that are of the dating age, and I was just passing out all types of advice to them because they were bringing these guys over, and I was just peeling them apart,” he said.
The reason he has sold so many books and has so many listeners and viewers is that “people have come to respect the fact that I’m honest,” Mr. Harvey said. “I’m very honest, man.”
Comedy was not a planned career for Mr. Harvey, but it wasn’t entirely an accident either. Mr. Harvey “flunked out of college,” he said, and went to work on an assembly line at a Ford Motor Company plant. “If I got sick and missed a day, man, the line was hurting because they needed me,” he said. “I was singing, telling jokes. I was Mr. Entertainment.” He was laid off from that job because of a production slowdown, but he kept at the comedy.
Even with the current whirl of books, radio and television, Mr. Harvey said he does not want to abandon stand-up. “I was going to make 2010 the last year,” he said, “and then I got scared and didn’t do it because I went, ‘O.K., you’re going to stop doing the one thing you absolutely love to do, and you’re going to replace that with what, mister?’ ” He plans to tour next year with the gospel performer Kirk Franklin. They are booked in large halls like the Philips Arena in Atlanta and Radio City Music Hall. “I think that can solidify me, and make my comedy career pretty complete,” he said of the tour.