The fourth season of Little Big Shots premieres Sunday, March 1 — though a special preview aired February 24 — and with it comes a new host in comedian and actor Melissa McCarthy. But fans may be wondering what happened to former host Steve Harvey? Read on to find out why he left and why NBC tapped McCarthy as his replacement.
Steve Harvey’s Overall NBCUniversal Deal Has Ended
After hosting three seasons of Little Big Shots and seven seasons of his eponymous syndicated daytime talk show, Harvey’s deal with NBCUniversal has come to an end. The announcement officially came in May 2019, which is when NBCU announced that McCarthy would take over as Harvey’s host for Little Big Shots and The Kelly Clarkson Show would take over his talk show slot.
However, Harvey knew back in January 2019 that the writing was on the wall with NBCUniversal. At the Variety Entertainment Summit that month, he told reporters that he thought he was going to stay with NBCUniversal “until they made an announcement a couple weeks ago that they wanted to give Kelly Clarkson the [NBC] O&O networks — that’s my slot. … I thought it would have been nice of them to come to me — as the only dude who’s survived [in daytime TV] for seven years — about it.”
Note: O&O networks are broadcast shorthand for “owned and operated” networks. The term is used when a broadcasting network runs a local station.
The reason NBCU was looking to replace Steve is because in 2016, Harvey’s initial five-year contract with Endemol Shine North America ended. He then opted to cut a deal with IMG Original Content to produce a revamped version of his talk show to start in fall 2017. IMG offered Harvey a higher salary, a much larger ownership stake, and more creative control. NBCUniversal lost its stake in the show when it transitioned to IMG, even though NBCU was still the distributor, so the company started looking for a new show to replace Steve because its executives were reportedly “furious” about losing their stake in the talk show.
An interesting side note is that IMG and Harvey’s representative agency, William Morris Endeavor (WME), are both owned by Endeavor media conglomerate, so there was talk of how this new deal between Harvey and IMG was perhaps a conflict of interest. But either way, the turmoil over Harvey’s talk show is most likely what led to NBC ending his Little Big Shots hosting gig. Variety also reports that Harvey was due to receive a large salary raise if he hosted a fourth season of the show.
Why Melissa McCarthy
When NBC announced that McCarthy would be taking over for Harvey on the show, NBC executives called it a “brand refresh.”
“Melissa’s just an incredible performer and incredible comedian,” said NBC co-chairman of entertainment Paul Telegdy in a statement. “She will bring a completely fresh perspective to it.”
He also said that McCarthy is a “strong creative force” who would bring “her own ideas” to the show and there “changes will be apparent” when she takes over.
Ahead of her premiere as the show’s new host, McCarthy said that she was excited to be a part of Little Big Shots to help “shine a light on these remarkable kids.”
“One of the many remarkable things that we get to witness on Little Big Shots is all of these kids being exactly who they are,” says McCarthy n a season four preview video, “[They’re] doing things differently and absolutely just being the best versions of themselves. It is absolutely an inspiration.”
Little Big Shots airs Sundays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on NBC.