Seinfeld’s Superhuman ‘Ref’ Producer


If her resume and tireless work ethic isn’t enough to illustrate why Jerry Seinfeld calls this week’s Fifth Estater Ellen Rakieten “superhuman,” how about the fact that the woman is seemingly immune to jetlag?

Rakieten regularly shuttles back and forth from Chicago, where she lives, to New York, where the show films. “She’s an amazing traveler,” Seinfeld says. “You can’t tell if she came from the hotel or from Chicago.”

Rakieten became friendly with Seinfeld’s wife after he appeared on Oprah and their families would often get together during the summer. A working partnership between Rakieten and Seinfeld seemed like a great idea, though unlikely.

“My wife always had this image of us working together on this thing,” Seinfeld says. “But I didn’t want to do TV and she was doing Oprah and it became very far-fetched.” Yet when Rakieten left Oprah to start her own production company, the timing came together.

“We get along well,” Seinfeld says. “We totally respect each others viewpoint on every issues. [We] don’t have to agree but you have to respect the other person and that’s what makes it a great working relationship.”

While there is some overlap between their two roles on The Marriage Ref, Rakieten handles everything from supervising shots in the control room to booking guests and figuring out the show’s schedule and generally “moving a million pieces around all the time,” Seinfeld says. And he seems a little surprised that she chose to join a start-up show coming from her success at Oprah.

Oprah is like Oz,” Seinfeld quips. “It’s an Emerald City. We’re just like a garage band.”?