Jerry Seinfeld steps into reality

Reteaming with NBC for fall release of 'Marriage Ref'

Jerry Seinfeld is reteaming with NBC to launch his first reality series.

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. The comedian increasingly has used married life for material in his stand-up act. So while being a bachelor inspired "Seinfeld," the comedian's married years will inspire his unscripted program.

"Some of the greatest comedies in the history of television have been around marriages," Silverman said. "The concept is so universal and accessible, and obviously it works so well when it comes from somebody with a point of view -- and nobody has a stronger point of view on this subject than Seinfeld."

Six one-hour episodes have been ordered for a planned fall release.

Seinfeld appeared on the network in a series of interstitial shorts two years ago to promote his DreamWorks Animation film "Bee Movie" and appeared on an episode of NBC's "30 Rock." But this deal marks the first series Seinfeld has committed to since his sitcom aired its series finale in 1998.

Seinfeld's role is behind the camera as an executive producer and creator, but given the show's celebrity-guest format, it's not too difficult to imagine an occasional on-camera appearance. Executive producer Rakieten said Seinfeld's voice will be evident in the show's commentaries.

"Every single person in a relationship can completely relate to this show," Rakieten said. "We all have the same fights, and there's a bottomless well of content."

Added Seinfeld: "This is not a therapy show, it's a comedy show. After nine years of marriage, I have discovered that the comedic potential of this subject is quite rich."

The "Marriage" deal was brokered by lawyer Jeanne Newman.
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