Steve Harvey hopes 'Think Like a Man' empowers women

Meagan Good in scene from 'Think Like a Man.'

Photo by Associated Press

Meagan Good in scene from "Think Like a Man."

Comedian Steve Harvey and his wife Marjorie Bridges arrive for the 'Think Like A Man' premiere on Wednesday, April 4, 2012 in New York.  The film is based on Harvey's best-selling book.

Photo by Carlo Allegri/Associated Press

Comedian Steve Harvey and his wife Marjorie Bridges arrive for the "Think Like A Man" premiere on Wednesday, April 4, 2012 in New York. The film is based on Harvey's best-selling book.

Steve Harvey should be somewhere in the middle of the ocean right about now.

After a peripatetic schedule of planes, trains, automobiles and nonstop interviews (this one conducted by phone from a Philadelphia shoe store while a stranger snapped his photo), he planned to take his family on a cruise. And when he returns, he hopes to learn — God willing, he said — that "Think Like a Man" opened at $30 million.

The movie is based on his book, "Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man," and he appears as himself and serves as executive producer.

"The thing I wanted them to promise me was, that you will not make a mockery of my book," he said. "The book was really written with the intent to empower women," and he didn't want filmmakers to lose sight of that while concentrating on the comedy.

"Getting hurt is not funny. Trying to figure men out is not funny. It's a serious thing, out here, women are getting hurt, men are getting hurt," he said, and the producers kept their word.

"They said we won't do that, we're going to make a good film — it's going to be funny, but it's going to be a good film, and they did it."

Today, Harvey is married to his third wife, Marjorie, and they have seven children between them. He wrote the book for his daughters — ages 29 (twins), 25 and 15.

"They kept coming to me with these boys, and I kept going, 'Why are you talking to him? He's an idiot.' 'Dad, he's not an idiot.' 'Yes, he is.' And then when they found out, 'Dad, how did you know?' 'Because I'm a guy.'"

After thrashing this out with his daughters, fielding women's questions through "The Strawberry Letter" segment of his syndicated radio show and being encouraged to write a book, he did. In fact, he wrote two, with the first published in 2009 and the follow-up in 2010. (And no, he doesn't foresee making it a trilogy.)

At the time of the interview, he had screened the movie twice.

"I didn't know it would be as touching as it was. ... I didn't know that people would laugh as hard as they did and then turn around and cry in the movie. I was really, really surprised by that reaction to it all.

"I thought it was just going to be more of a comedy, but I watched it without laughing at all because I was so afraid the first time of how the movie was going to turn out. ... The second time I saw it, I was able to enjoy the movie and then I started looking for the funniness in it and the heartfelt stuff, and I went, 'Wow, man,' and then my wife said, 'Wow, baby, this is way better than we thought it was going to be.' And it was and we're very proud of it."

He thinks men will find someone to identify with and women will recognize the experiences dramatized onscreen.

"The thing that I really love, too, is the fact that it's just like the book — I didn't write the book with color. I didn't put color in the book. There's not a paragraph in there, 'Black women do this, white women do that, black men do this, white men do that,' because I know the truth of the matter. That men are the same."

Born in West Virginia, Harvey was raised in Ohio, the youngest of five children. Asked how that shaped him, he says the fact he was a "country boy" influenced him but so did his late parents.

"My mother was so important in my life and so were my sisters. I saw my father be married to my mother for 64 years before they died. I didn't know anything else; that's why I kept trying to get marriage right because that's all I thought you were supposed to do."

Now 55, he's been married since he was 24 and says, "I made some decisions, nobody's fault but mine, but I made some decisions that didn't turn out right. I was a hopeless believer in the fact that marriage works and so I finally got it right."

Harvey met Marjorie 20 years ago in a comedy club in Memphis. She and a friend came in late to claim their front-row seats.

"When I saw her, I quit talking, and the absolute first words out of my mouth ever to her — and she'll tell you this is true — I said, 'I don't know who you are, lady, but I'm gonna marry you some day.'"

He found her again years later and made good on his promise. They will celebrate their sixth anniversary in June.

Punch Steve Harvey's name into an Internet search engine and it doesn't take long for ugly allegations from his second wife to surface. So it's no wonder that, when asked about being funny in this age of Facebook and Twitter, the host of "Family Feud" says, "It's not harder to be funny, it's harder to be famous."

"I think the price of fame is too high now. You know, used to be, the only stories that came out were in the newspaper and they had to have fact-finders and they had people who went to school for journalism and they had an integrity about what they wrote and made sure the story was factual, and then if something bad came out about you, you balled up the newspaper and it went away.

"Because of the Internet now and Twitter and Facebook and blogs, anybody can write a story, don't check no facts, don't go to school for journalism, don't care anything about truth. They put your picture in there and they print a story that's untrue about you."

And some people think that's news. "You're being judged by a bunch of stuff that's not even true about yourself, and so the price of fame is extremely high right now."

© 2012 marconews.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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