By Zorianna Kit
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Comedian Steve Harvey is a veteran of stand-up comedy and television with programs like his sitcom "The Steve Harvey Show" and the game show "Family Feud," which he currently hosts.
This Friday, his 2009 bestselling, non-fiction book "Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man: What Men Really Think About Love, Relationships, Intimacy, and Commitment" gets the big screen treatment in comedy film, "Think Like a Man."
With an all-star cast including Gabrielle Union, Kevin Hart, Michael Ealy, Romany Malco, hip-hop singer Chris Brown and Oscar nominated actress Taraji P. Henson, the film follows four couples, each of whom have their own relationship issues. When the women start reading Harvey's book in order to improve things, the men get wind of it and try to turn the tables.
Harvey, who executive produces the film and has a small role as himself, sat down with Reuters to talk about it, his upcoming syndicated daytime talk show and his dreams of becoming a motivational speaker.
Q: When you wrote this book, did you ever think it had the makings of a feature film?
A: "The possibility of it becoming a movie never even entered my mind. Not for a millisecond. When I wrote the book, my goal was to make the New York Times bestseller list. That was it. I had no idea the book would be as successful as it was."
Q: Once development began on the film, as executive producer, what kind of input did you have?
A: "I thought you've got to have maybe four of the chapters that gained the most attention - the 90-day rule I thought was a big one - and create some couples around them. The only requirement I had was not to colorize this movie. My book is not about color. It's not about race. This is a movie about how guys think. And it really shows women how guys really think, function and operate."
Q: How challenging was it to adapt a self-help book?
A: "The challenge was not making a mockery of my book because it was meant to empower women. I wrote it with my daughters in mind. It was a challenge to stay true to the principles in the book, to be funny without crossing into slapstick and buffoonery. The writers did an excellent job, and I'm proud of the adaptation."
Q: In the film you appear as yourself, an author and expert. How do you feel about being a relationship expert?
A: "People say, 'He's a relationship expert,' but the expertise that I have is that I'm an expert on how men think. If I was an expert at relationships, I wouldn't be in my third marriage! (laughs). But I got being a man down pat."
Q: Your parents were married for 64 years. With role models like that, how could you have been married three times?
A: "I went about it the wrong way. I never sat down with my father and talked about who to pick, how to pick, how to hang in there when it gets tough. We didn't have a lot of talks about it, so I kept trying. I got way off track a few times. I made a lot of mistakes, but those mistakes got me to this point."
Q: This fall, you'll be hosting your own syndicated talk show. How are you preparing?
A: "That's one of the things that's been on the bucket list, and it's finally come true. I've done years of sitting on (talk show) couches as a guest, and I've always been complimented as being a good guest. I've learned a lot from hosts. It's been a great teaching ground for me to host my own show."
Q: With new talk shows from Ricki Lake, Katie Couric and Jeff Probst among others, how will yours be different?
A: "Here's the deal: there will be no one on television funnier than Steve Harvey. Period. (laughs). That can't happen. I've got all my cash banked on that one! I will be controlling the funny. It's going to be a funny show where you can get a good laugh during the daytime."
Q: What else is on your bucket list?
A: "I would love to be a motivational speaker. That's where I think I'm headed. I've had to learn so many principles of success and memorize so many scriptures. I've been through a lot. I can share with people who come from the bottom, how to get to the top."
Q: What would you say was your low point?
A: "I was homeless. I lived in a car for a couple of years. That was the worst. But nothing was worse than when I was 40 and my mom passed away. My mother was the best person I ever knew. Those were the two lowest points."
Q: Why do you feel compelled to help others?
A: "My mom was a Sunday school teacher for 40 years. She always said 'God blesses you to become a blessing.' You can get a big house on the hill and if you don't show anybody else how to get up on that hill, you'll just be up there by yourself.'"
Q: You've done everything from selling Amway to working as a mailman. What have those jobs taught you?
A: "That success is a process. You've got to do a series of things you're uncomfortable doing in order to get to what you want to do. I've had about 11 different jobs. I didn't care for any of them. But that process taught me how to do uncomfortable things. So as I became successful, when it came time to do uncomfortable things to be successful, I was pretty good at it."
(Reporting By Zorianna Kit)