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Rob Riggle set to replace Frank Caliendo on Fox NFL pregame
Fox will formally announce Monday that John Madden and Jack Nicholson— or at least comedian Frank Caliendo's repeated impersonations of them — will be leaving its top-rated NFL pregame show. Taking Caliendo's place: Rob Riggle.
USA Today Sports Television
By Michael Hiestand
Rob Riggle will replace Frank Caliendo on NFL pregame show.
"Nothing against Frank, we love Frank," says Fox producer Chris Pizzi. "But it's been nine years. We wanted something fresh. Rob is on the edge of becoming a huge star. We want to help him. And that helps our show too. Now, everybody just knows him as the guy in that movie."
That movie being 21 Jump Street, in which Riggle played a quirky high school track coach, and The Hangover, in which Riggle played a Las Vegas cop who lets a kid taser a grownup.
Pizzi says Fox was interested in Riggle before he hosted ESPN's ESPY award show this summer. But, Riggle says, "I truly don't know why they picked me." And impersonations "aren't in my wheelhouse. So what is my wheelhouse? We'll discover that along the way."
At least Riggle is superbly positioned to call the cranially endowed Fox analyst Howie Long "a jarhead" and explain that he meant it as a compliment. While studying theater at Kansas, he was also a pilot — "it was awesome, flying dates around the campus" — and joined the Marines to fly. "But once I pinned on those wings," he says, "they owned me for eight years." And the idea of giving up comedy, he says, "haunted me. … (Flying) wasn't my passion. And if you're flying a helicopter off a ship at night with a bunch of Marines on board, you'd better be passionate."
After deployments in Liberia, Albania and Kosovo, he was asked what it would take to keep him. He asked to be stationed in Los Angeles or New York. "And," he says, "they called my bluff."
In a four-person public affairs office, he became a Marine in Manhattan as he pursued comedy work. Then came 9/11, when Riggle was deployed to help search through rubble. He later was deployed to Afghanistan. And, oh yeah, he ended up getting a gig on Saturday Night Live in 2004.
Now, he's lieutenant colonel in the reserves whose next mission is to continually poke fun at, say, Fox's Terry Bradshaw. Whether or not Bradshaw can handle the truth.