As reported in DailyMail.com, Steve Harvey has ended his hugely popular Neighborhood Awards, the event that recognizes local businesses, activists, teachers and churches.
–The comedian dealt with backlash last week for meeting with then President-elect Donald Trump on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. ‘I did what I was supposed to do,’ Harvey said about the meeting, adding that he wanted to speak to Trump about a ‘plan for the inner cities’
–Harvey also found himself in court this week for a separate issue: a former employee threatened to release tapes of a ‘racially offensive’ comedy routine. In the 120 hours worth of footage, he allegedly tells the audience to ‘go assault old white women’ and ‘spit on white people’
It’s been a difficult few weeks for Steve Harvey – and it looks like things are about to get worse.
The awards have become a branded event for The Steve Harvey Morning Show and were instrumental in helping the 60-year-old’s namesake radio program become successful when it launched into national syndication.
Neighborhood Awards recognized local businesses, community leaders, teachers, churches and local entrepreneurs in Oscars-like fashion and gave the national show local appeal to the 90-plus markets in which it’s broadcast.
DailyMail.com reached out to Steve Harvey’s spokeperson for comment but did not hear back by the time of this posting.
‘This event was launched to make Steve appear more personable to his radio listeners. It helped shape his “guy-next-door image,” as Steve’s real personality is oftentimes curt.
‘His cold nature towards fans ultimately ended his first morning show that aired locally in Los Angeles,’ a source close to Harvey told DailyMail.com.
Harvey’s reason for putting the brakes on Neighborhood Awards, despite listener interest and its overall success, is reportedly due to former manager Rushion McDonald, who owns the show and concept.
After Harvey parted with his manager more than a year ago, he decided to stop supporting the event. ‘It’s what some people would describe as, “cutting off your nose to spite your face,”’ the source said.
Meanwhile, Harvey is still being lampooned for meeting with (then President-elect) Trump at Trump Tower on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The celebrity said he ‘didn’t expect’ the serious backlash he received from the African American community.
‘On a personal note, a lot of y’all hurt me,’ he told his radio audience, phoning in from vacation on January 16, the day of the meeting. ‘You really did. I didn’t expect the backlash to be so fierce.’ Harvey maintained that he met with Trump in an effort to ‘get some things started’ and make ‘a plan for the inner cities’.
‘It’s just me following orders from my friend, President Obama, who said “Steve, you gotta, as he told everyone, get out from behind your computer, stop tweeting and texting, and get out there and sit down and talk,”‘ Harvey said, referencing Obama’s farewell speech in Chicago.
‘So I stepped from behind my microphone and I came and talked to the guy that is going to be the 45th president of the United States. I did what I was supposed to do.’
Despite Harvey’s intentions, fans and friends alike bombarded the comedian with a steady barrage of hate mail. Some even started a Change.org petition to request that Premiere Networks, the company that syndicates The Steve Harvey Morning Show, drop the radio program altogether.
‘He doesn’t realize how the fallout from all of this could negatively impact his brand. If he thought the Miss Universe backlash [when Harvey crowned the wrong winner in 2015] was something, this was an error of catastrophic proportions and he has to let his arrogance go and apologize to his fan base,’ the DailyMail.com source said.
Harvey’s friend and fellow Original Kings of Comedy star D.L. Hughley criticized him for taking a meeting with Trump as well.
‘You know why you have a comedian, rapper and football player out to talk about the concerns of the community? Because that’s the positions you’re used to seeing us in. You’d rather have black people as football players, comedians and rappers than the president. You’d rather see us run the ball than run the country,’ Hughley said.
‘Despite being a comic, Steve has been trying to position himself as a motivational speaker and community activist, so he doesn’t understand why people don’t think he was worthy of being an ambassador for his culture,’ the DailyMail.com source said.
CNN contributor Marc Lamont Hill also condemned the meeting, saying that the stunt was nothing more than ‘a bunch of mediocre negroes being dragged in front of TV as a photo-op for Donald Trump’s exploitative campaign against black people.’
But issues over race didn’t stop there for Harvey.
The host was taken to federal court in Dallas on Tuesday over ‘racially offensive’ tapes from his old comedy routines in the 1990’s. Former videographer Joseph Cooper is suing the comedian for $10million, claiming that he has to right to sell the tapes from Harvey’s performances at the Steve Harvey Comedy House. In the nearly 120 hours worth of footage, Harvey allegedly tells the audience to ‘go assault old white women’ and ‘spit on white people’.
Harvey claims that he never signed a contract with Cooper over the rights to the footage, and his ex-employee’s attempt to release the tapes is amount to ‘extortion’.
Now, in response to his professional and legal woes, it appears Harvey is pulling an age-old trick: escaping to the tropics. He spent last week vacationing with his family on a private island in the Caribbean and is throwing his weight behind a new project called Sand & Soul Festival, which will debut in October in Nassau, Bahamas at Atlantis Paradise Resort.
Members of his team hope that the fallout from the Trump meeting, his new lawsuit, the cancellation of Neighborhood Awards – as well as reports that Atlantis Paradise Resort is being sued for an outbreak of bed bugs – won’t keep fans away.
‘Hopefully during his vacation he’s had time to think about how he could make this fallout from his Trump meeting right. Because African American women make up 76% of his radio listening audience, he needs to fix this mistake or it could be detrimental to the survival of his show,’ the DailyMail.com source said.