When Steve Harvey, one of the Original Kings of Comedy, set out to give his daughters some advice on handling men, he never imagined that the result of his fatherly counsel would be a New York Times best-selling book and the inspiration for the one of the most highly-anticipated movies of the year. His provocative volume, “Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man” caught the attention of none other than Oprah Winfrey, so captivating the former daytime diva that she had Harvey on her popular talk show twice to discuss its content.
Equally captivated was Rainforest Films producer Will Packer, who approached Harvey about adapting the book for the big screen, and as a result, the vibrant romantic comedy, “Think Like a Man,” is now open in theaters nationwide.
“Everywhere I went, I would see women with this book and it intrigued me, so I had to find out about it. I read the book,” says Packer. “I didn’t know Steve was giving away all the secrets. After my initial reaction of ‘Steve, what are you doing?’ I thought this would make a really good movie.”
When I recently sat down with the dapper Steve Harvey at Philadelphia’s posh Ritz Carlton, he clearly was basking in the glow of the film’s positive buzz. He was in town for the Philadelphia premiere of “Think Like a Man,” and was also scheduled to broadcast “The Steve Harvey Morning Show” from the studios of WDAS-FM the following day.
When asked why “Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man,” which sold three million copies, was so successful, Harvey’s answer was quite simple. “The book is the truth,” he said. “I wrote the book purely as a father, so I’m going to tell them the real deal, ‘cause I don’t want no guy hurtin’ my daughters. So I’m, ‘Okay. This is how dude really thinks.’ So the book was written really, a father talking to his daughters. This is what I would tell my daughters about the slick stuff they’re gonna run into. Okay, cool. Women needed that more than I really knew.”
The book was also inspired, in part, by a regular feature on Harvey’s popular syndicated radio show titled “The Strawberry Letter,” in which women often seek help with their man problems. Their questions gave him an indication of how desperately women in general were in need of his advice. Even so, the success of “Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man” was quite unexpected.
“I’m just as surprised as anybody else,” said Harvey. “You write a book, you don’t expect to be as big as it [is]. A huge book in the literary world is 200,000 copies. [I sold] three million books! My goal, when I wrote this book, I just wanted to be on the best-seller list at number seven, ‘cause that’s three up from the bottom [of the Top Ten]!”
There are those who would dispute Harvey’s credibility as a “relationship expert,” and for those, he had a quick response saying, “This is my third marriage. What the hell do I know about relationships? I know about men all damn day!
“All of the dudes in this movie, including (Philadelphia comedian) Kevin Hart, is what the whole book was about — is that the woman is oftentimes the missing link, and when the right woman comes along man, the (expletive deleted) is like, ‘Jackpot!’“
Harvey also hosts the game show “Family Feud” in addition to his other daytime duties, and has appeared in the feature films “You Got Served,” “Love Don’t Cost a Thing” and “Johnson Family Vacation.” But his on-screen participation in “Think Like a Man,” directed by Tim Story, is minimal.
“I’m not a movie star, and I even told Will, ‘Hey man, don’t feel like you have to put me in this movie,” Harvey said. “I sold it for a lot of money, and I’m making money off the film. I’m OK. I want the movie to be a hit.’ So I’m in the movie, but the star of the movie, for me, is the book.”
Harvey believes that “Think Like a Man” has something for everyone, and having screened this romantic romp for the “Grown & Sexy,” I’m inclined to agree.
“Everybody I’ve talked to loved the movie!” he said in conclusion. “The three comments are ‘It’s funny,’ ‘It’s very touching,’ and ‘Oh my God! I was in there!’ Every man was in there somewhere, and every woman is in there somewhere. You’ve all dealt with it.”