In the meantime, check out this article in the New York Times!
Hello, Jerry: Seinfeld Returns to Television With ‘The Marriage Ref’By DAVE ITZKOFF
Monica Almeida/The New York Times
Twelve years ago Jerry Seinfeld walked away from his wildly successful NBC sitcom, never planning to be back on television regularly again. Then he got married and had kids, had an argument with his wife that inspired a new series, yada yada yada — he returns to NBC this weekend. Sort of.
“The Marriage Ref,” which has its first sneak preview on Sunday night before moving to NBC’s Thursday night lineup, is produced by Mr. Seinfeld and features him in three of its first nine episodes. But it’s hardly the kind of scripted comedy series that he is best known for: it’s a hybrid reality-comedy series in which real-life couples argue their marital disputes in front of a celebrity panel, and the comedian Tom Papa declares an ultimate winner. What’s the deal?
Mr. Seinfeld spoke with The New York Times about “The Marriage Ref” for an article that appears in the Arts & Leisure section this Sunday. In these excerpts from that conversation, he talks about his return to television and why he thinks “it would be a hilariously ironic moment to suddenly have a hit on NBC.”
You’ve just started taping the earliest episodes of your first new television series in more than a decade. How does it feel so far?
That aspect of television is a lot of fun for me. We think of something, and then a week later it’s in front of an audience. There’s a complexity in solving the basic problem of “What is this show?” But having solved that, there’s a simplicity now to doing it that I’m really enjoying. My body was like “You’re making another television show?” All those sensations of doing it from 12 years ago and the previous nine come back. But because it’s all in such a different way, it’s fun.
You weren’t necessarily angling to get back onto television, but you got swept up in the idea for “The Marriage Ref”?
Yeah. If an idea’s good, you become its servant. If you’re pushing it, working it, fixing it, whipping it like a racehorse that’s going too slow, it’s probably not that good an idea. A good idea has a — what’s the word? — a draft suction, that you get pulled into it. It took years for the American public to get into our universe when I did “Seinfeld.” It was like “Oh, now I understand what they’re doing.” This has none of those aspects. This universe is known already. There’s still a strong flavor of misanthropy here, that you will not mistake. Even in this most important institution, this most romantic subject, you’ll feel the flavor.
Do you go into a new project like this with any anxiety at all?
Yes. That feeling is a necessary nutrient for a creative person — that scared feeling. It would obviously be very easy for me to risk nothing at this point, and just leave the casino a winner. But I get very attracted to things that seem to require me to develop a new skill set. But I’m always going for the same thing in the end. I just want to make something funny.
The NBC that you’re coming back to is hardly the one that you left in 1998. Are you modulating your expectations in terms of what “The Marriage Ref” can accomplish on the network now?
I love the chessboard at this particular moment. In the television landscape and NBC in particular. To come out now with something new and weird and potentially — obviously, we’re hoping that it’s well-received — but I love this moment. I think it would be a hilariously ironic moment to suddenly have a hit on NBC. Everything’s so wrong. That’s what I love about it. That to me — when I see everything is wrong, that feels right to me.
I do have a loyalty to NBC, for obvious reasons, and even reasons going further back — as a stand-up, with Carson and Letterman, it’s kind of my heritage . We had a lot of conversations about where to go with the idea, and I said: “Well, I’m going to go to NBC first. I’m not going to give to all four and create a bidding war.” Nobody else ever saw it.
Who are some of the people you’re planning to have as celebrity panelists?
Of course my pal Larry David. Matthew Broderick. Alec Baldwin was my No. 1 get, because to me, he’s just such a funny thinker. Last night, there was this issue, and Kelly Ripa had to decide, whose side are you on? You’ve seen her on talk shows, you can watch her every day on her show. You’re not going to see her face a dilemma like this and watch her sort it out. So you learn a little bit about her. It’s interesting.
Does it matter that some of your celebrity guests haven’t had the most successful marriages themselves?
Irrelevant. Irrelevant. Totally irrelevant. It only gives them more expertise. The only thing I don’t want is people that don’t have experience. I’m not interested in your experience — just the perspective you gained from it.
You said you’ve already started seeing interest in “The Marriage Ref” from foreign markets?
I’ve had such a weird experience with this thing. This show has already been sold to, I think, six or seven foreign television stations around the world. We went to France to this big convention where they sell TV shows to these countries. We didn’t even have the show figured out yet. We just said: “It’s a show about marriage, it’s funny. It has three celebrity panelists that talk about marital issues.” That was all they knew, and they started buying it. The Australian affiliate called us a month ago and said, “We’re ready to go into production.” And I said, “With what?” I said, “2011, you mean?” They go, “No, no – right now.” I go, “But we haven’t made one yet. How are you going to make one?”
It’s the most backwards possible television — the foreign market sale, that’s the end of the process, right? “Seinfeld” doesn’t go on in India till the very end. [laughs] The first buyer of the show? Arab television. The second buyer? Israeli television. You go, “What am I onto here?”
Once this show is up and running, do you have an idea for what you’d like to do next?
No. I don’t have any ideas. Seriously. I have no ideas. Ideas are a terrible obligation. It’s like a child. Who needs something else to take care of? It requires so much nurturing. I have kids. I’d rather nurture them than another idea.