On what should be a momentous day for his five-year-old syndicated talk show, Steve Harvey is dealing with a leaked memo in which he reportedly told staff not to speak to or approach him.
Thursday marks The Steve Harvey Show's last taping at its home at Chicago's NBC Tower before moving west to Los Angeles. When it returns this fall for Season 6, it will have a shortened title, Steve, and more celebrity guests. And thanks to a deal struck last year with NBC Universal and IMG, Harvey will have an ownership stake and more control.
Harvey, 60, confirmed to Entertainment Tonight that he did send the staff memo that was leaked to Chicago media blog RobertFeder.com and picked up by Variety and Deadline.com.
In the email, sent to Steve Harvey Show employees as they returned to work last fall, he laid out new rules banning staffers from "popping into" his dressing room or the makeup room to see him or approaching him in the hallway in hopes of having a walk-and-talk meeting.
"Do not approach me while I’m in the makeup chair unless I ask to speak with you directly," he instructed them, saying they should knock or ring the doorbell before barging in.
"I want all the ambushing to stop now," he wrote. "That includes TV staff. You must schedule an appointment. I have been taken advantage of by my lenient policy in the past. This ends now. NO MORE."
He warned would-be violators, "If you open my door, expect to be removed," adding that his security guards would be stationed outside his dressing room to turn away uninvited visitors.
Harvey stressed throughout the memo that he felt he had to make changes in order to keep his work days from being eaten up by impromptu meetings and glad-handing backstage visitors. "It is for the good of my personal life and enjoyment," he explained, asking them not to take offense.
He asked critics to put themselves in his shoes, noting, "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."
Later, he described the daily interruptions to ET: "Look, man, I'm in my makeup chair, they walk in the room. I'm having lunch, they walk in, they don't knock," he continued. "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."
While he won't apologize for the memo's overall message, he admits, "In hindsight, I probably should've handled it a little bit differently."
It's worth noting that the talk show isn't the only project occupying Harvey's days. He hosts two other programs, NBC's Little Big Shots and ABC's updated Family Feud as well as a radio show, rivaling Ryan Seacrest for having the most jobs in showbiz.
It's possible the memo was leaked by one of the dozens of Harvey staffers who were not invited to move west to work on the revamped show and are now out of work.
In the last year, Harvey has come under fire for making fun of Asian men on his show as well as meeting with then President-elect Donald Trump and his HUD nominee, Dr. Ben Carson, to discuss ideas for inner-city programs during the transition.
"Our president (Obama) asked that all of us sit down and talk to one another in order to move our country forward," the host of Family Feud and The Steve Harvey Show noted in a statement posted to Twitter in mid-January. "The transition teams on both sides asked me to meet and I'm glad I did."
Harvey also reached meme status last year when he announced the wrong winner at the end of the 2015 Miss Universe pageant, a blunder he was reminded of many times during the 2016 pageant and that is likely to end up in his obituary. But he's learned to have a sense of humor about it.
After a similar snafu happened during the presentation of this year's best-picture Oscar, he extended an offer to presenter Warren Beatty: "Call me. I can help you get through this."