Steve Harvey on Celebrity Family Feud: All of It is Fodder for Me

PAULETTE COHN 

It will be the battle of the music stars when country cutie Kellie Picklertakes on boy bander Lance Bass of *NSYNC when Celebrity Family Feud returns on Sunday night — and it all happens under the direction of funny man Steve Harvey, who will once again host this summer’s celebrity version of the now-classic game show, which asks contests to name the most popular responses to a survey-type question posed to 100 people.

“They play different on regular Family Feud because $20,000 moves the needle in those people’s lives,” Harvey told Parade.com during a visit to the Culver City, Calif. set. “Celebrities come out here and they are playing for charity. They are giving it their all, but it’s not the same thing. It’s not money in their pocket. The regular people have had my mouth open a little bit.”

In addition to Pickler and Bass, this Sunday night will see To Tell the Truth‘sNeNe Leakes‘ family members compete against relatives of Ghostbustersstar Ernie Hudson. The following week will be the battle of the gridiron as football players from the AFC take on the NFC’s offense and defense teams.

Read on to find out what Harvey said about who he is looking forward to having on the show, how he handles squabbles, what fans want to talk to him about, and more.

This season of Celebrity Family Feud has an impressive line-up of celebrity contestants, who are you looking forward to sparring with?

For me, because I’m such a fan of the NFL, it is when the players come. It is a funny thing — I was telling the audience out there, every athlete wants to be an entertainer; every entertainer wants to be an athlete. The football players are my favorite ones. I get to see these guys in a different element. Instead of having their pads on, their numbers on, and heading up the field, I’ve got them totally out of their element here. This game is hard, man.

When fans stop you, what is it that they most want to talk about?

 

Everybody wants to tell me their favorite moment. They pull out their phones. I can’t tell you how many people have porcupine as a screen saver. Then the latest one was the lady who could not find a substitute word for mother. I have people come up to me and just go, “Nonna,” or “Nonnu.” People just come up to me like that, so it is never for me, they always come to tell me the funniest thing they’ve ever seen. That’s a compliment, you know.

You are used to dispensing advice. Do you have a trick for handling family squabbles on the show?

All of it is fodder for me. Whatever you do is fodder for me. I am going to take whatever you give me and turn it into an entertainment moment without being mean about it.  Look, if you give an answer that’s absolutely ridiculous, everybody in the audience know it. Everybody at home know it. So I don’t have to make you feel bad about it; I just gotta enhance it. I just got to make them hear what you said, and if I repeat it three or four times, I got them laughing. That’s all it is. So I let them fight it out amongst themselves and whatever they do, I just use.

This is really a non-scripted show. I don’t know the questions before I go out. I certainly don’t know the answers when I get out there. So it’s just a game of wits for me. How can I make the people at home and the people in the audience watching laugh the hardest, so they enjoy themselves? That’s all it is for me.

From the outside looking in, your life looks pretty good right now but we all have challenges.  What’s challenging for you?

My schedule. The schedule is very challenging. At times, I think I’ve bitten off more than I can chew.  My wife has told me, ‘You’re not signing another contract ever. Ever.’ She keeps telling me we have grandkids now, we got to play with them, stuff like that. I don’t see why I have to. I played with my grandkids’ parents. So I’m really through with playing with kids. I like to hug my grandkids and they kiss me and they call me Papa, and then I want them to go home because I want to watch Sports Center.  That’s where I am now.  I want to watch Sports Center, smoke cigars, and try to make that golf ball go straight. That’s it.

The second season premiere episode of Celebrity Family Feud airs Sunday, June 26 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on ABC.