Facing a firestorm of criticism over a harshly-worded memo to his staff that found its way into this column Wednesday, talk show host Steve Harvey insists he has nothing to apologize for, but acknowledged: “I probably should’ve handled it a little bit differently.”
Harvey confirmed the authenticity of the email he sent at the start of the current season ordering employees of “The Steve Harvey Show” not to speak to him in the hallways, in his dressing room or in the makeup chair. “I promise you I will not entertain you in the hallway, and do not attempt to walk with me,” he wrote. “If you’re reading this, yes, I mean you.”
The text of the letter, first published here, quickly went viral, subjecting Harvey to worldwide ridicule on social media.
In a phone interview Thursday with “Entertainment Tonight,” Harvey told the entertainment news show he wrote the memo because he was tired of being “ambushed” by employees on his show and wanted to protect his privacy.
“I don’t apologize about the letter, but it’s kind of crazy what people who took this thing and ran, man,” Harvey said. “I appreciate you asking me.”
Production of the syndicated talk show ended this week after five years at NBC Tower in Chicago, with most of its estimated 80 employees losing their jobs. Harvey will host a new daytime series from Los Angeles, starting this fall.
“I could not find a way to walk from the stage to my dressing room, to sit in my makeup chair, to walk from my dressing room to the stage or to just sit and have lunch without somebody just walking in,” he told “ET.” “I’ve always had a policy where, you know, you can come and talk to me — so many people are great around here, but some of them just started taking advantage of it.
“Look man, I’m in my makeup chair, they walk in the room. I’m having lunch, they walk in, they don’t knock. I’m in the hallway, I’m getting ambushed by people with friends that come to the show and having me sign this and do this. I just said, ‘Wait a minute.’ And in hindsight, I probably should’ve handled it a little bit differently.”
By sending the email, Harvey said, he was “asking everyone to simply honor and respect” his privacy, adding: “If you come out your house, you don’t want anybody on your porch waiting on you. You walk to your car, you don’t want people bothering you on your way to your car. Everybody wants the freedom to be able to move around.
“I just didn’t want to be in this prison anymore where I had to be in this little room, scared to go out and take a breath of fresh air without somebody approaching me, so I wrote the letter.”