Steve Harvey Talks "Friend" Cosby, Oscars Boycott and Miss Universe Fiasco

AP Photo/John Locher
Steve Harvey

"I understand what they're saying. What I don't understand is asking Chris Rock not to host."

Steve Harvey is standing with Oscars host Chris Rock. The comedian and talk show host said Wednesday that he thinks the suggestion that Rock should boycott the ceremony for its absence of black nominees is counterproductive, while also sounding off on his relationship with Bill Cosby and his Miss Universe snafu.

"I understand the boycott," said Harvey. "I understand what they're saying. What I don't understand is asking Chris Rock not to host. I think Chris Rock should host. Chris Rock doesn't determine who the [nominees] are. The Academy does. And nobody knows who the Academy is."

In Miami Beach to be honored by the National Association of Television Program Executives, Harvey was not the only one to skew the conversation towards film. Just an hour before Harvey took the stage for his Q&A, Quincy Jones sounded off on the matter in the same room.

"If it were happening to you, you'd feel the same thing," Harvey said of the boycott, adding that the issue of exclusively white entertainment is nothing new. "How the hell did you have Friends in New York, and none of them [are] black? You have no black friends in New York? If you're in Rhode Island, I'd let it slide."

It was one hot-button issue after another for Harvey, who made a casual mention of Cosby before catching himself. "You have nothing to drink up here?" he asked, the crowd instantly on alert at the name of the disgraced comedian facing multiple charges of alleged sexual abuse.

"It is what it is," said Harvey. "Bill Cosby taught me something when I first got started. He said, 'Steve, you have the ability to make people laugh. And once you make people laugh, you have their attention ... you have to be careful with the power.' I'm going to say from now on that George Carlin taught me that."

Harvey, who says he's still in touch with Cosby, did not exactly come out in his defense — but he didn't say much to distance himself, either. "He has been a friend of mine. He has been a friend to my children," said Harvey. "That's the man I know. I don't know what it is. I would love to believe none of it were true, but I'm not the judge and jury on this one. Wherever the chips fall, he is my friend."

He continued: "I've talked with him a couple times. I don't bring up the subject. What do I say to him, 'Hang in there?' Have you ever been in trouble and someone told you, 'Hang in there?'"

The real elephant in the room, however, was Harvey's mistake seen around the world. The 2015 Miss Universe emcee made headlines when he announced the wrong winner at the Dec. 20 pageant and then awkwardly corrected himself to the disappointment of runner-up Miss Colombia.

"I was asking God to help me increase my global persona," he said. "I don't appreciate the route he took. You've got to be real specific with God. It was a challenging night for sure."

Harvey, who attempted to put water under the bridge with a special episode about the subject on his talk show earlier this week, is now able to laugh about the situation — though he did seem adamant about avoiding Colombia for the rest of his life.

"Colombia was hot," he said of the death threats he received. "In the Philippines, I'm king. Colombia, I can't even fly over their airspace. I won't be going."

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