A graduate of the University of Michigan with a degree in communications, Rich Eisen is probably best known to sport fans as the face of the NFL Network, which he joined after seven years at ESPN. He has also added his commentary to several of VH1’s various “I Love the….” decade shows and last year appeared in the very funny short “Field of Dreams 2” on Funny or Die. He can also currently be seen (actually heard) as the marathon announcer in the new film “That’s My Boy.” Eisen’s latest project is as host of the new action/reality show “The Great Escape,” which debuts this Sunday evening on TNT. Rich took some time recently to speak with Media Mikes about his love for football, his reality show skills and how he hopes to follow Dan Patrick to “Sandler Stardom!”
Mike Smith: How did you get involved with “The Great Escape?”
Rich Eisen: Charlie Ebersol, who is one of the producers, and his partner, Justin Hochberg…they created the show. They sat me down about a year ago and showed me on his iPhone a demo reel for “The Great Escape” that was constructed by Ron Howard, whose production company he runs with Brian Grazer, Imagine Entertainment, is one of the show’s producers, as well as the creators and producers of “The Amazing Race.” And I decided that if they wanted to bring to life what they just showed me on their iPhone…what was leaping off of that small screen and snapping my lapels back…well, I told them “tell me more!” (laughs) And now here we are, about to show it to the fickle beast that is the American viewing public. I don’t want to jinx it but it’s got everything that appears to appeal to the folks that like to watch this kind of programming. I mean it’s got EVERYTHING in it that will push their buttons. I’m really excited for it.
MS: With NFL training camps starting up next month with your duties on the show interfere in your NFL Network gig?
RE: No. We’ll be done shooting this season’s shows by the end of this month (June). I’m ready for the NFL season. I’ll tell you that. It’s a great thing, too. I’m really involved in two of the greatest reality projects around. “The Great Escape,” obviously. And the NFL. THAT’S 22-26 weeks of drama. Each and every week.
MS: Besides “The Great Escape,” is there a reality show you wouldn’t mind appearing on?
RE: You know I’d really like to try “The Great Escape.” I’d love to see how I’d handle it. I’d choose Warren Sapp (former Tampa Bay Buccaneer great) to do it with me because he’d be able to handle both the physical and the mental challenges. I’d love to do that. That would be a lot of fun. And when folks see this show that’s going to be their general sense…they’re going to want to do this. It’s going to call to them from the television.
MS: I caught your work in the new Adam Sandler film “That’s My Boy” earlier this week. Any plans of following your buddy Dan Patrick into bigger roles on the silver screen?
RS: (laughs) Dan always makes it seem like he’s the gatekeeper but it’s still really Adam Sandler and his producing partner, Jack Garraputo, who call the shots. I’m working my way into the rotation. “That’s My Boy” is a double edged sword because, though I’m involved in the funniest scene in the film, most people don’t hear me because they’re rolling in the aisles! But, that said, I can only aspire to be what Dan is in the Sandler oeuvre’!