Don’t call 2010 a comeback year for Jerry Seinfeld. Though the funnyman returned to the network airwaves with his reality skein “The Marriage Ref,” he never really retired after “Seinfeld” ended in 1998. The New York native continued to flex his comic muscles with a busy standup schedule over the past 12 years.
Still, “The Marriage Ref” creates a new lucrative revenue stream for Seinfeld, already one of the highest-earning entertainers, thanks to “Seinfeld” syndication and DVD sales. “Ref,” the lighthearted couples counseling show, which bowed in February, is now making inroads in China, where it will air twice weekly on the JiangSu Satellite Channel. Broadcasters in Australia and the Middle East have also licensed both the format and the U.S. version of the show, which has been picked up for a second season on NBC. Add to that local versions of the skein coming out of Argentina, Israel and Spain.
That proliferation should help keep Seinfeld ensconced on the Forbes entertainer list (he ranked No. 37 this year with an estimated haul of $75 million). Seinfeld, who declined to be interviewed, continues to be one of the most press-shy figures in showbiz. In a rare interview, he told WFAN: “I’m not one of these all-publicity-is-good people. People talk about (how) you need exposure — you could die of exposure.”