Ellen DeGeneres and Steve Harvey may be daytime talk-show rivals, but they're now partners in a primetime show that marks another merger … one of television traditions.
Harvey agrees that elements of "America's Got Talent" and TV icon Art Linkletter's classic "House Party" (specifically, the "Kids Say the Darndest Things" segment) are present as he hosts "Little Big Shots," a new NBC showcase for talented youngsters. Harvey also is – along with DeGeneres -- an executive producer of the show that has a preview airing Tuesday (March 8) before making its official debut the following Sunday.
With the weekday "Steve Harvey" and "Family Feud" already on his plate, along with other jobs he's been offered since his Miss Universe winner-announcing gaffe in December, Harvey wasn't seeking another hosting gig. "I've got too many shows now," he tells Zap2it. "Then they told me how much it paid, and I was like, 'Fine!'
"I've got seven kids," Harvey notes, "so I've been talking to people of all ages for a long time. And just dealing with talent, from having hosted 'Showtime at the Apollo' all those years and 'Steve Harvey's Big Time Challenge,' this is really rewarding for me. You're going to hear kids say some of the craziest stuff, but they're purely being kids, and that's the beauty of it. My job is to just relax them, so I can get the best out of them."
Harvey says when DeGeneres' team contacted him, "I thought, 'OK, I'll do business with Ellen.' I mean, you've got Oprah, and you've got Ellen." A self-professed fan of Harvey's "facial expressions," DeGeneres often features youngsters on her syndicated weekday show, and she says, "I'm happy that's the place where we started this, but I'm also happy to spin it off.
"It's, for sure, not a competition show," adds DeGeneres, who was part of Fox's "American Idol" for a season. "I didn't want to make it that. I don't want any kids getting their dreams squashed by a judge. And I'm also not necessarily encouraging them to do this for the rest of their lives. Some of them are just talented kids, and whatever they end up doing, that's great."
"Little Big Shots" fulfills the mandate DeGeneres has for her A Very Good Production firm. "I don't want to do anything just because I can," she explains. "I want to do things I'm really proud of and really want to do, so I'm trying to grow the company with integrity. I think kids will love this show, and adults will love the show, too … because who doesn't want to see an adorable kid with a talent?"