Endemol secures Seinfeld format for U.K.

Deal to make overseas versions of 'The Marriage Ref'

LONDON -- Global production outfit Endemol has secured an international distribution deal with Jerry Seinfeld and Ellen Rakieten to make overseas versions of their new comedy/reality format "The Marriage Ref," which will air on NBC in primetime from March 2010.

"Ref," which is exec produced by Seinfeld and longtime "The Oprah Winfrey Show" exec producer Rakieten, sees opinionated celebrities, comedians and sports personalities comment, judge and offer different strategies to real-life couples in the midst of a marital dispute.

Endemol, which has production operations in 26 countries, will be the exclusive distributor of the format across all platforms outside the U.S. and will produce local versions of the show around the world.

Endemol will also globally distribute the NBC series. The NBC version will be produced by Shed Media.

"Picture well-known people weighing in on your relationship issues and deciding who is right and who is wrong, right on the spot, like a referee," Rakieten said.

"Endemol's enthusiasm and passion for 'The Marriage Ref' was evident from our first meeting," she said. "Their incredible track record speaks for itself. We are proud to partner with them on this project."

Describing his new show, Seinfeld said it 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."

Endemol chief commercial officer Tom Toumazis said building distribution and production was key to Endemol and that the Seinfeld/Rakieten project was "without a doubt most significant third party distribution deal Endemol has secured since we announced our intention to grow this part of our business last year."