The Marriage Ref, that Jerry Seinfeld-produced reality show where a rotating panel of celebrities decides the winners of ridiculous marital disputes, has its season-two premiere tonight (why, I have no idea) and one person (besides myself) will definitely not be watching.
Forty-seven-year-old Manhattan beauty-products salesman Howie Kohlenberg appeared on the March 4, 2010 episode of the show with his wife Christine. They had been having financial difficulties with their Midtown spa, and producers told them their business would be given an on-air plug, which Kohlenberg says they never delivered on. Producers also apparently wanted the Kohlenbergs to play up an argument about removing a wedding ring when playing basketball, which the now-divorced Kohlenberg says wasn't really an issue.
And now Kohlenberg is claiming that Jerry Seinfeld and his show are directly responsible for the breakup of his fourteen-year marriage. Kohlenberg said, "The headline should read, 'Jerry Seinfeld ruined my life: the danger of reality shows'." He maintains that after doing the show, his wife became obsessed with making it big. (As if The Marriage Ref were the ideal launching pad for becoming famous.) He said:
"The people on the show were pumping us up, saying, 'You're going to wake up and be stars. You're going to be famous and make money.' The producer kept saying her lips looked great, and all of a sudden she was getting a lot of Botox. Now she's getting this huge head. She wants to do Playboy. We almost got kicked off the show because she was putting racy photos on Facebook."
You know how the rest of the story goes. The wife flew to L.A., played a pool girl in a low-budget indie comedy, and met and ran away with a Canadian producer, leaving her husband with a struggling business and their four-year-old son. But that's show business. Christine Kohlenberg (or as I call her, "the next Julia Roberts") is well on her way, having followed the pool-girl role with an appearance in the pilot for a New York-based reality show called Shopaholics. And then I'm guessing she'll be in a show called Queens of Credit Card Debt.