“Steve” to end run

Steve Harvey’s daytime talk show canceled after seven years amid controversy

With numerous shows’ fates being decided this weekend before the upfronts (I’ll have a post up on this soon), there was one in particular that doesn’t air in prime-time but in daytime syndication – and it was one featuring Steve Harvey, whose show Steve won’t be back this fall, as first reported by Variety Friday.

The program taped its final show Thursday at Universal Studios, where it moved after five seasons in Chicago’s NBC Tower as Steve Harvey. The last original episode is set to air in June, with repeats continuing until September 6.

Ratings were actually decent – Steve ranked as the fifth-ranked talk show in syndication and averaged nearly two million viewers a day, but were declining year-to-year.

But it was a long-simmering tug-of-war between syndicator NBCUniversal and producer IMG, which may hold the key to why it was canceled.

Back in September, NBCUniversal signed Kelly Clarkson to launch a new syndicated talk show beginning in September 2019, taking over time periods occupied by Steve on ten of NBC’s owned-and-operated stations, including the 2 p.m. slot at WMAQ-TV here, leading into Ellen. NBCUniversal later announced it would no longer handle syndication for Steve at the end of this current season.

According to Variety, NBCUniversal officials were not happy about losing the ownership stake in the show as Harvey gained more creative control under IMG (who replaced Endemol Shine North America as the show’s production company) and received a higher salary. Harvey moved the program to Los Angeles to attract more celebrities – thus increasing production costs as for the most part, they were basically the B and C-list kind.

The decision to join forces with IMG was also a source of consternation. Harvey’s agent is William Morris Endeavor – who happens to own IMG, raising conflict-of-interest questions. Recently, the Writers Guild of America West and East told their 15,000-plus union members to sever ties with their agents over the use of packaging fees as the agents are repped by the four major Hollywood agencies under the Association of Talent Agents¬† whose companies (WME, UTA, CAA, and ICM Partners) now have financial stakes in several television shows… such as Steve. The Guild claims this is a conflict-of-interest.

Of note is Ari Emanuel – who is brother of outgoing Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel – is co-chairman of WME.

This would have been a huge problem if Harvey were a writer on own show, as most variety/comedy programs’ hosts also receive credit for contributing material to the writing staff, which Harvey does not do.

IMG’s lack of experience in distribution also resulted in the show’s demise as it found no takers for Steve.

The cancellation of Steve may be retribution for those in the Chicago creative community as Harvey opted not to renew his deal to produce the show here. When the show left Chicago two years ago, an e-mail obtained by Robert Feder claimed employees on Harvey’s show worked under draconian rules.

Steve’s cancellation does not affect his hosting duties for Debmar-Mercury’s Family Feud, where he will continue in that role. He also continues to host Celebrity Family Feud for ABC, The Miss USA pageant and a New Year’s Eve special for Fox, and his syndicated morning radio show, heard locally over V103 (WVAZ-FM).

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