Back in 2007, Jerry Seinfeld and his wife went on Oprah to promote their various creative endeavors (Bee Movie; vegetable pureeing for kidz book), and to bequeath Oprah with thousands and thousands of dollars worth of shoes. But that, of course, was only on the surface. Watching their appearances, it was clear that the collision of these two entertainment behemoths wouldn't end that day in that studio. As Oprah and the Seinfelds chuckled, a chill swept across the audience, clouds began to gather, the sky darkened, and goosebumps sprouted on the flesh of the vulnerable, innocent public. The seeds of evil were being sown. And what rough beast, its hour come round at last, slouches toward NBC to be born? Oh, that would be The Marriage Ref, a new reality series from Seinfeld and Oprah's executive producer!
From The Hollywood Reporter:
The comedian's project is tentatively called "The Marriage Ref" and features celebrities, comedians and athletes who will judge couples in the midst of marital disputes while recommending various strategies to resolve their problems.
Seinfeld is partnering with "The Oprah Winfrey Show" veteran Ellen Rakieten on the project, which reunites the comedian with the network that aired his hit sitcom "Seinfeld" for nine years.
NBC co-chair Ben Silverman said Seinfeld pitched the show as a companion piece of sorts to his classic sitcom…
There's no disputing that Seinfeld is/was one of the funniest sitcoms of all time. (Well, I guess you could dispute that, but you'd be wrong.) But this doesn't sound like the work of Seinfeld Seinfeld—it sounds more like the work of Bee Movie TV Junior Seinfeld.
Also, there already is a companion piece to Seinfeld. It's called Curb Your Enthusiasm, and in terms of both humor and inventiveness it's clearly the more worthy successor than whatever The Marriage Ref sounds like (read: Jerry Seinfeld's Celebrity Marriage Rehab).
Then there's this, from Variety:
"This is not a therapy show, it's a comedy show," said Seinfeld. "After nine years of marriage, I have discovered that the comedic potential of this subject is quite rich."
"Jerry called us up and told us he had an idea," Silverman said. "He flew in to sit down with us, and he and Ellen pitched the show. We were laughing the whole time as they went through the concept. As Jerry noted, some of the greatest comedies in history have been about marriage."
For her part, Rakieten has been involved with "Oprah" since the syndie phenom's launch 23 years ago. She has served as exec producer of the show since 2003.
"Picture well-known people weighing in on a couple's relationship issues and deciding who is right and who is wrong right on the spot, like a referee."
Why picture it when I could just stare at a blank wall until I fall asleep and get the same effect? It's never a good sign when you have to specifically inform people that, yes, this is supposed to be a comedy show.
Still, you have to admire Ben Silverman's storytelling abilities. As if Seinfeld and the executive producer of Oprah had to pitch to NBC—if they let him do Bee Movie TV Juniors all over primetime they'll let him do anything. I'm sure the actual "pitch" was about 30 seconds and consisted of Seinfeld saying one sentence, "Hi, I'm Jerry Seinfeld." And Ben Silverman responding, "Deal." Then they spent the rest of the meeting gossiping about Michael Flatley.