A little over a year ago, Steve Harvey said he had a five-year plan for making his personal brand as ubiquitous as the Nike swoosh -- and apparently he wasn’t kidding.
“In about five years, I’m gonna cut all this smilin’ and stuff out,” Harvey said then, in a conversation with Jerry Seinfeld on Seinfeld’s Crackle show “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.”
“That takes a certain amount of money,” said Seinfeld. There’s a number ...”
“Yeah, I don’t have that number right now,” Harvey said. “Thus the smiling show continues.”
Cut to the present day and Harvey, 60, is poised to keep smiling in at least three shows in network prime-time this summer, including a new one premiering this coming Sunday night on ABC.
Called “Steve Harvey's Funderdome” (pictured above), this one hour show is an inventor-entrepreneur-game show hybrid in which wannabe businesspeople will compete for crowd-funding -- thus the word “funder” in the show's title.
The show pits contestants against each other who are pitching products that are similar in various ways.
For example, in Sunday's premiere, a man who has invented a gadget called Airhook to help airplane travelers to better organize drinks and devices in their tiny space in coach class goes up against a woman who has invented a barrier that she feels will prevent conflicts where the sharing of armrests is concerned.
In another segment, contestants compete with their own unique soap products. One is strictly for feminine use. The other includes natural ingredients such as coffee grounds.
The competitors each get a chance to pitch their products, after which Harvey reacts to them with gentle, harmless teasing. Then the studio audience votes for the contestant they believe deserves to be funded with a few thousand dollars (up to $20,000 in the premiere).
Scheduled for 9 p.m. Sunday night, “Funderdome” sets up a summer schedule on ABC in which Harvey will be seen for two hours. One of his other shows, “Celebrity Family Feud,” starts its new summer season on the same night at 8 p.m. Eastern.
ABC's Sunday night Harvey-fest may be the reason NBC moved the show he does for them -- “Little Big Shots” -- out of its traditional Sunday slot in favor of Wednesday nights this summer.
Three hours of prime-time TV every week is the kind of exposure that leads some to begin raising the specter of over-saturation and advising caution. But in his conversation with Seinfeld last year, Harvey revealed that he believes a certain amount of saturation is a goal he’s working toward, not something he is trying to avoid.
“[People say to] me ‘Are you afraid of being over-saturated?’ ” Harvey told Seinfeld. “I said, ‘With what? Money?’ ‘No, fame [they said].’ I said, ‘Excuse me, sir, everywhere I go, I see the Nike swoosh. … Are they over-saturated?’ ”
Next fall, Harvey is relaunching his daytime talk show after moving it from its long-time home in Chicago to Los Angeles, where it will now be more celebrity-focused.
Thus, Harvey's saturation campaign will have him covering afternoons and evenings. All he needs now is a late-night show and a morning show and his goal will be met.
“Steve Harvey's Funderdome” premieres Sunday (June 11) at 9 p.m. Eastern on ABC.