A lot has changed since Jerry Seinfeld last called network TV home 12 years ago. But despite online video, reality TV, declining ratings and increased competition, the co-creator and star of one of pop culture's most memorable series says he's confident he's chosen the right time to return with The Marriage Ref.
"I did feel some energy and some desire to put something else on TV," Seinfeld says of his inspiration, which came on the heels of the reunion of Seinfeld's cast on Curb Your Enthusiasm. "In a weird way, it actually felt like a good moment to put a new show on. I feel like people are really kind of hungry for a new feeling on TV."
Executive-produced by Seinfeld, The Marriage Ref helps everyday married couples solve their disputes with help of celebrity panelists and comedian Tom Papa, who is the host of the show and the ultimate marriage ref.
Although the show employs classic ingredients of a traditional family sitcom, reality competition series and talk shows, Papa is confident viewers will see something new in The Marriage Ref. "It's fresh," he says. "There's a lot of forms that you've seen that you kind of get tired of. It's kind of nice to think you can tune in and see something new."
Veteran sports journalist Marv Albert serves as the show's announcer and Today's Natalie Morales is its "Just the Facts Ma'am," who outlines the salient details of each couple's rift. Upcoming celebrity panelists include Alec Baldwin, Kelly Ripa, Eva Longoria Parker, Larry David and Madonna.
"At this point, we're just experimenting with different combinations of people to see the different chemistries of the different panels," Seinfeld says. "We're just inventing it as we go."
The Marriage Ref premieres Sunday after the Winter Olympics, at 10:30/9:30c on NBC.