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Max Kellerman on Going From Well Known to ‘First Take’ Famous (Exclusive)

”The level of privacy in public has diminished — noticeably,“ ESPN morning host tells TheWrap

Max Kellerman has been a popular on-air sportstalk personality, boxing analyst and occasional political pundit for nearly 20 years now. Hell, the guy even dabbled in rap music for a while, sharing a legitimate record deal with his late brother Sam.

You probably recognize his face — even without the chinstrap — maybe from a “Rocky” movie, perhaps from “I, Max,” “Around the Horn” or “SportsNation,” but those outside the sports-fan arena might not recognize Kellerman by name. That selective notoriety is becoming less and less common, however, now that he’s co-hosting ESPN’s high-profile morning debate program “First Take” with Stephen A. Smith.

Considering the flagship show just moved from little brother ESPN2 to the main channel yesterday, grabbing a quiet dinner with his wife and three kids could become even more challenging in the near future.

On Tuesday, TheWrap had the first interview with the “Max on Boxing,” minutes after ESPN’s “First Take” relaunch debut rolled its end credits. One of the things we posed to the Columbia grad is to help us quantify or qualify how much his personal stock has skyrocketed due to the big move.

“Hard for me to say,” he began. “The level of privacy in public has diminished — noticeably.”

“Oftentimes — even if you’re on TV — when you’re in public, you can still be a private person,” Kellerman elaborated. “But with ‘First Take,’ that’s just not the way it works. When you’re in public, you’re in public.”

But please don’t take that as Kellerman complaining. He made it very clear that anyone who sits in front of a microphone and a camera knows that this is what success looks like. And after a few decades of being a fan favorite and reliably delivering strong TV ratings, Kellerman is cool with your selfie request.

“It feels better being asked to take a picture than getting a picture, believe me,” he said.

Fortunately, working mostly in remote Bristol, Conn. helps keep some of that fanfare to a minimum. Catch Kellerman, Smith and moderator Molly Qerim weekdays from 10 a.m.-noon on ESPN’s ‘First Take.”