Ellen Gray: Philly's Kevin Hart stars in 'Real Husbands of Hollywood'

Kevin Hart carried by (from left) Nick Cannon, Boris Kodjoe and J.B. Smoove, says the show is a parody of a Bravo series.
Kevin Hart carried by (from left) Nick Cannon, Boris Kodjoe and J.B. Smoove, says the show is a parody of a Bravo series.
Posted: January 16, 2013


PASADENA, Calif. - In Hollywood, it's not just who you know, it's how far the people you know are willing to go for you.

Philly's Kevin Hart has made some famous friends since his days at 15th and Erie and BET viewers will get to meet some of them Tuesday night in Hart's new "reality" show parody, "Real Husbands of Hollywood."

And unlike some of the "friends" on the shows he's poking fun at, the "husbands" he's hanging with - Nick Cannon, Boris Kodjoe, J.B. Smoove, Duane Martin and Robin Thicke, among others - weren't brought together by a casting director.

"I put my friendships on the line," said the 32-year-old actor and comedian in an interview at the Television Critics Association's winter meetings.

"We're really all friends. Very close. I've known everybody who's involved in the show for quite some time. And [it was] me pulling a lot of these people in for favors," he said.

"They didn't know what this show is, the arc of the show. So their involvement in the show was me pitching to them what the show is and what the show can be, and how different it is for BET," where the show grew out of sketches Hart had done for the past couple of BET Awards shows.

"We're all playing exaggerated characters of ourselves," said Hart, the only divorced member of the group, whose spouses include Mariah Carey, married to Cannon; Nicole Ari Parker, married to Kodjoe; Tisha Campbell-Martin, married to Martin; Shahidah Omar, married to Smoove; and Paula Patton, married to Thicke.

The wives, Hart insisted, are fine with the idea.

"We don't do anything that pushes them too far where it offends them," he said of the show in which his role tends to be that of instigator.

"What makes my character funny is I'm the reason for the problem in their particular relationships," he said.

"Like I believe that Paula Patton wants to be with me. I believe that Nick Cannon's jealous of me because me and Mariah Carey once had a fling. We never had a fling [in real life], but we create these moments in the show.

"I believe J.B. Smoove is upset because his wife thinks I'm funnier than him. I'm Larry David in 'Curb Your Enthusiasm' - I put myself in situations where people have to react and when people react, I have to react. And that's what our show is about: It's about creating that pointless conflict that becomes funny," Hart said.

"And I think that with a lot of these reality shows, when you look at 'The Real Housewives of [Beverly Hills],' of 'Atlanta,' 'Basketball Wives,' these women argue over the most minute things that are nothing. They fight, make up about what they fought about and then team up to fight the next girl. And it's a continuous cycle."

("I haven't even seen it [yet]," Carey told me last week when I asked her, after an "American Idol" news conference, about Cannon's participation in "Real Husbands." Told that she's mentioned quite a bit, she said, "So I hear," rolling her eyes, as any wife might.)

Though it's ostensibly a parody of shows like Bravo's "Real Housewives" franchise, with the players identified on-screen by both their spouses and their "Real Husbands" taglines - Smoove's "The Hater," Cannon's "Mr. Get-a-Check" - "Curb Your Enthusiasm" fans will recognize the HBO show's influence, and not just because Smoove's had a recurring role on "Curb."

"That's really the inspiration, yes," said Hart, who describes "Real Husbands," for which he's an executive producer as well as the star, as "semi-scripted."

"We have a premise, we have an outline. And within that outline, we have story points. No matter what, you need to get these story points, because this moves our story along. Now, within the middle of those story points, there's room for error, there's room for improv, there's room for wiggle.

"In other words, you're dealing with comedians who do improv, you're dealing with actors who are bringing so much to the table - that's the space to do that. Then we get back on track to our story and we get to Point A, Point B, Point C and conclusion. And that's our cycle. We have great work days. They're not long at all. We got our first season done and we're picked up for a second season already," he said.

It's probably not a show Hart could have made in his hometown, but the way he sees it, "I don't think you want [a show like 'Real Housewives'] in Philadelphia . . . I think it's best to keep it out of our city."

And coming from a different environment makes it easier to skewer the place he lives now.

'Like a chameleon, you adapt [to Hollywood]. But because you adapt doesn't mean you're a part of everything. You see all the craziness that goes on. So the beauty of doing this show is now, this is a way for me to talk about and expose a lot of the craziness that I've seen, but do it in a smart, comedic way to where it's a fake version of that," he said.

Not that Hart's out to offend anyone, on either coast.

"My thing is being professional, respectful and polite, 24/7," he said, crediting his late mother, Nancy Hart, with teaching him to "to respect people and work hard . . . Because when you do that, these relationships become great relationships. And because of my relationship to these guys in the past, I was able to get them in the present."

Email: graye@phillynews.com

Phone: 215-854-5950

" @elgray

Blog: EllenGray.tv

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