An intimate interview with Steve Harvey, Marques Houston, and Omari Grandberry
The drama surrounding teen sensation B2K and their sudden break-up eerily mirrors the events of their first feature film together, You Got Served, which also sees a set of best friends disbanding due to very childlike circumstances. Can Steve Harvey channel his latest screen persona in Mr. Rad and bring this squabble to a close? The great Harvey, a stand-up legend and morning radio show luminary, may just be that one unlikely candidate to restore the faith in every teenage girl's heart. Can Steve bring back the thunderous admiration of a thousand screaming school children? Sho?nuff?
- Steve Harvey -
O: What drove you into the arms of Mr. Rad?
Steve Harvey: Well, I said, if this isn't a comedic character, then he has to have some sort of redeeming quality about him. Originally, when the kids got into trouble at the end, He didn't do anything to facilitate that situation. I wanted to make sure he helped these boys out. That he was known as a guy that kept these guys off the streets. Other than that, I wouldn't have done it. If they had of left it like it was, I wouldn't have signed on.
O: Were you at all hesitant about the script, especially with the demographic it was targeting?
Harvey: Not really. I'm on the radio in the morning, and I've been doing stand-up for 18 years. I understand that times change, and that you have to move with them a little bit. I don't care that much for Hip-Hop. But I play it in the morning because they pay me a lot of money. I ain't stupid. You just go with the flow of things. As I get older, physically older?I mean, they don't make movies out here for forty-seven year old black men. They don't expose our lives, the way it is. Hip-Hop is the biggest thing there is right now. It's crossing over all the boundaries. If you can find a place in there, then you should take it. And it's always good if you can have an influence on young people in a positive direction. Young kids are in a world of trouble right now. They are going to get killed, they way they?re going. This is not a good time right now.
O: Do you prefer doing this type of work as opposed to stand-up?
Harvey: I love stand-up. That's about the only thing I love. The rest of this stuff as been an offshoot. This other stuff I do, I tolerate it. I don't love television, but I'm a TV star. I'm not a movie star. I never came out here to be a movie star. I've never read for a movie, I've never gone out and inquired about a part. These five movies I got this year? They all called me up and said, 'steve, will you do this role?? I'm 47. I'm not about to spend the rest of my life going and sitting in a room, waiting, and they tell me, ?No!? That they don't except me. That they want Will Smith. Well, what the Hell did I come down here for? So, I'm not in the business like that. I don't have to be. God has blessed me like that. I have some options. I've got nice things that I do. That are about me. The Steve Harvey Morning Show. The Steve Harvey Big Time. The Steve Harvey Show that's in syndication. Steve Harvey Live on HBO. This is all bonus stuff. If something big pops up, then I?ll take it. But I'm not really aiming to be a movie star. People are talking to me about additional roles. They like what I did this year in film. You know, if it's a big enough check, I?ll squeeze it in.
O: Cedric is downstairs. You guys have such great chemistry together?
Harvey: I love Cedric. He is like my brother. We did a TV show together for six years. We knew each other before that. I met Cedric in ?91 when he walked into my comedy club in Dallas. And we've never had an argument. We've never had one ill word. We've never had an, ?I wish he'd be that? moment. We've never had any of that. We've always had the utmost respect for each other. The reason I haven't done another sitcom is that I couldn't go to work and have as much fun as I had with this dude. We went to work to laugh. We just went in there and laughed. We didn't care about the director. All those technical guys hated us. These two stand-ups, man? We don't get serious until its tape day. We don't want to rehearse. I don't like telling jokes over and over again. It gets redundant. And after a while, I don't think it's funny. Me and Ced were coming to work on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, and we'd just be in there. And they hated us for that. The other actors, they were more serious, you know? ?Guys, we've got to practice so we get our lines down!? No way, these are jokes. We got ?em. We?re going to wait until the crowd gets here, and then we?re going to let our natural timing take over. Then we?re going to tell these jokes. These words leading up to the jokes? That's y?all. That's all that we were in there for. The jokes. They didn't like that. But we had a good time. We've done a lot of stuff together. And he's true. That's probably one of the greatest friendships. It is 'the? greatest friendship I've built in this business.
O: Did you ever have a Mr. Rad in your own life? Someone who gave you guidance?
Harvey: I lived with my Mr. Rad. My father was my inspiration, my check-point, all of that. I didn't have a broken home. I'm not the ghetto story. I was fortunate. My father was around me all the time. My old man was wicked, though. Ooh. He was my Mr. Rad. I didn't really have to go too far outside.
O: When you were much younger, and you got into a bit of trouble, how long did you have to stay in jail?
Harvey: Too long. I straightened that up right-quick. You go to jail one time, I think that fixes you. It fixed me. I didn't have to stay long. I don't like to talk about it. You see, Tim Allan can go to prison, and say he was a heroin addict, and have a television career. I say it? They?re going to pull my ass off TV the next morning. Let's just say that I was there for a 'stint.? (note: I guess Steve forgot about Charles Dutton, a black man whose been very candid about his prison time and sustained an accomplished tv and movie career.)
O: And it had the acquired and necessary effect on you?
Harvey: Yes it did. Those weekends in there were enough for me. It came out to a lot of things, but it was enough for me. I said, 'that is it.? But that straighten me out. I haven't seen a day of trouble since. Not any real illegal trouble. Though, I do have an ex-wife. That's a world of trouble right there.
O: Can you discuss the break-up of B2K?
Harvey: Well, right now, we think B2K is going to get back together. That's going to happen. I had them at the Celebration of Gospel last night. I had them in my trailer the day before that. Sometimes, you just have to pull young people to the side and say, ?Look, here's the business mistake y?all are making. Let's take the personal out of it. You don't split up 20 days before your only movie comes out. Whoever told you to do that was an idiot. Now, let's sit down and go back over this. We are out here to do what? Make money. What money are you making right now? This movie. If we don't promote this movie and present a unified front, guess who ain't going to make no money? I'm too old for this shit here. This aint no kiddy-ass moment you all are having?I don't like him, I don't like him?? I said, 'man, if you don't all pull together and promote this movie so I can get this backend check that I got coming, Then I got to lay into y?all.?
O: This all sounds exactly like what happens in the movie. Didn't they read the script?
Harvey: This movie has to get to twenty million. If it gets to twenty million, I?ll have a very nice check coming my way. I think we need to let this movie get to twenty million. If it don't, I will hurt somebody. I will take out a million dollar ass-whuppin?. That's all I got to say.
O: What do the kids say about it?
Harvey: They've thought about all the points, and they?re talking now. And they?re talking to Chris Stokes, their manager. Today, there's a scheduled basketball game between all the boys just to get them talking to each other again. They need to find themselves as friends again. So, I'm Mr. Rad a little bit. But, you know, you've got to take cats under your wing and educate them a little bit. This is not their personal thing. I've got to try and be helpful when I can. If I just sit up and say, 'those stupid little kids broke up.? Without showing them the ramifications of their decision, then God looks at me and goes, ?You know you could have said something. Because you know better.? And I do. I have their ear. I know how to talk to these kids now. I have a 19 year old in my house. You aint fooling me. Don't throw that little slang shit at me. We?re going to stop using slang. We?re going to cuss. Cussing is universal. We?re going to stop slanging, and we?re going to start using profanity. Then those kids understand what I have to say. This is not gender, not culture. This has nothing to do with it. ?Kiss my ass!? pretty much goes with anything. You can say it in China, and they will understand. You don't even have to change it. ?Kiss my ass!? They will work it out. They will now that they have something to work out.
-Omari and Marques-
O: Was this a difficult role to undertake, especially with all the dancing?
Marques: Nah, I've been dancing my whole life, so it wasn't difficult at all. The most difficult part was getting into the role and playing best friend to my brother, Omari. Getting into that whole feel of the character and getting into that zone with all the battles was hard. We actually had to get into combat mode to pull it off.
O: This is the most serious role you've had to play.
Marques: Yeah, it was definitely a challenge. But I love challenges. I never walk away from a challenge. Chris came to me with the script and asked if I thought I could do it. I said, ?Of course.? I stepped up to the plate. It was good for me.
O: How do you feel about Samuel L. Jackson's somewhat controversial statement that Hip-Hop artists and singers shouldn't be acting?
Omari: My take on it is; I can kind of understand where he's coming form. I know he's spent thirty years doing this. And I respect that. But at the same time, in the realm of what we do, there are no rules in the game. Some athletes become singers. There was Shaq, who was a rapper. That's my take on it.
Marques: I get what he's trying to say. Sometimes you can see a movie, and there may be an artist in there that got that role'simply because they were an artist. And it's not good. But who's to say who is an actor and who's not? Like, where did he come from? Sam came from wherever he was before he started acting. It doesn't matter where you start. If it's your dream to be an actor, than that's your preference. But I understand that, yes, some roles are just given away.
O: Omari, was it tough for you not to be in that singing role?
Omari: No, because this film was not based around us as a group. This movie was definitely displayed and written so that it would show our acting abilities and other sides of our personalities. This is something I've been looking to do for awhile.
O: How does the family dynamic go when you two are together? Is there any competition between you? Any sibling rivalry?
Marques: It doesn't matter to us. We don't compete with each other.
Omari: I come to Marques for advice. He is a seasoned actor. I respect that about him. This was my first time, and I definitely came to him. Sometimes I'd have a little problem remembering my lines. He helped me with that.
O: Can I ask you a question about Punk'd? Where you really about to hit that old man?
Omari: Yeah, that's real. I had no clue. I was trying to be respectful, but that dude pushed me.
Marques: I wasn't involved with the whole thing, but when I saw it, I knew there was trouble. Because, when you see Omari starting to take his shirt off, there's going to be a fight. We all know that about Omari. If he starts pacing and taking his shirt off, he's getting ready to pop somebody.
O: What is your take on Steve Harvey's reaction to B2K breaking up? He's kind of annoyed at you guys?
Omari: My view on it is, me and my guys, my group members, have been together since we were 14 or 15. And we've been pursuing this for quite some time now. We?re just at that age. Right now, we kind of want to pursue our own dreams by ourselves. Go through our own things. Everybody just wants to do their own thing. Everybody is growing up.
O: There were some hard feelings had with this breakup.
Omari: Yeah, but I mean?In any relationship there are things that break apart?
Marques: When ever someone's mad, there's inevitably an argument. There are going to be things said that you don't mean. You Know? My thing about it is; it was a big shock. There were things said by the other three members that were really shocking. Any time you have a family relationship, these guys are like brothers, there's going to be some animosity between them. They?re going to fight like brothers. But for them to go publicly and say all these things that weren't true? That was the thing that hurt.
O: Has it healed now, though?
Omari: We?re trying to keep it together.
Marques: At least the friendship. That's what's important.
O: Is there a possibility that you guys will get back together?
Omari: As of right now, I don't know. I don't know what the future holds. People have to understand that certain thing with guys and pride.
Marques: It's about who has the biggest balls. That's what it comes down to.
Omari: It takes time to get over that and be the bigger man. Especially with young men.
Marques: There are no hard feelings. We don't hate them. They don't hate us. The important thing, it was hard to see a friendship broken up by business. We need to get the personal relationship back to where it was.
O: Harvey's take on it was; this is a bad time to breakup with the movie coming out and all?
Omari: Yeah, it was. But I say better late than never. Never make something seem like something it's not. Even thought it was kind of public?
Marques: You can't put a time frame on something like that. It just happened. Everybody can look at it from the outside and say it was the wrong time. But they don't know what's going on.
O: The director said something about you guys doing Fat Albert together
Marques: Yeah, definitely. We are going to do Fat Albert together. Then we have another movie that's definitely starting in March. That one's a scary movie.
Omari: We?re trying to do the whole Martin Lawrence/Will Smith thing. Like Bad Boys.
O: Who's going to be playing Fat Albert? One of you guys in a Fat suit?
Marques: We?re not sure at this point. I've heard something about Bruce Bruce, maybe?