Published June 26, 2011
It's not about nothing.
A heartbroken Manhattan divorcé blames Jerry Seinfeld and his NBC reality show, "The Marriage Ref," for tearing him and his now-ex-wife apart -- claiming their appearance as contestants on an episode led to her dumping him.
Howie Kohlenberg, 47, charged that after getting their 15 minutes of fame bickering on the March 4, 2010, premiere episode, his wife, Christine, became so obsessed with becoming a star it busted up their 14-year marriage.
"The headline should read, 'Jerry Seinfeld ruined my life: the danger of reality shows,' " Kohlenberg said.
Not only does the beauty-products salesman claim his sexy 37-year-old wife ditched him and their 4½-year-old son to chase a dream of starring in a "Real Housewives"-style reality show, he also says he went bankrupt and is now facing eviction.
"Jerry, Mr. Billionaire, I blame. And his show," he said.
"The Marriage Ref," which starts its second season tonight, places squabbling couples before a panel of celebrities to have their dispute judged.
Kohlenberg says he and Christine were happily married but having money issues with their now-defunct Midtown spa when a friend suggested auditioning for the show.
They were picked out of a pool of thousands.
"We did it to drum up some business," he said. "They promised to promote the spa on air. They didn't."
"Our arguments were always over the business, but the argument they [producers] wanted was that I took my wedding ring off when I played basketball," he said.
"It wasn't necessarily a true angle because she really didn't care if I took it off or not."
A publicist for Seinfeld said, "We are going to respectfully decline comment."
Kohlenberg insists their marital bliss turned into a blistering nightmare during preshow filming.
"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," he recalled.
"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.
"I'm not saying our marriage was perfect, but it put it in a whole new direction. It was the nail in the coffin.
"She had all these ideas that 'I have to live my life and be an actress.' "
Christine did not return phone calls or e-mails.
Kohlenberg said that after the "Marriage Ref" segment aired, his wife flew to Los Angeles, where she played a pool girl in the indie comedy film "Chakra Love." There she met a producer from Canada and went to live with him.
Since then, she's appeared in a New York-based reality pilot, "Shopaholics," Kohlenberg said.
Kohlenberg says he pleaded in vain for his wife to return home.
"Everybody thinks reality shows are glamorous -- you're going to get rich, and it's going to be the next 'Jersey Shore,' " he said. "They make you jump through hoops, the bottom line is they don't give a s- - -. You're just another number."