E:60Starting 5

E:60 profile reveals rarely seen sides of TNT’s Ernie Johnson

Ernie Johnson tends to his son Michael in a scene from E:60's profile of the TNT host.
Ernie Johnson tends to his son Michael in a scene from E:60’s profile of the TNT host.

E:60, ESPN’s award-winning news magazine show, presents a two-part profile of TNT’s “Inside The NBA” host Ernie Johnson (both parts airing Wednesday, 7 p.m. ET, ESPN). The feature – E:60’s first profile of a media personality – will cover various topics including his father, former major league pitcher and acclaimed broadcaster, the late Ernie Johnson Sr., his battle with cancer and more.

Johnson and his wife Cheryl have four adopted children, including Michael who was born with a progressive form of muscular dystrophy and lives on a ventilator in his parents’ home. With Jeremy Schaap reporting, E:60 explores a very personal and revealing profile of a man who has – as his colleague Charles Barkley said – “uncommon courage and a pure heart.”

E:60 feature producer Dan Lindberg provides Front Row an inside look at this profile.

E:60's production crew (L-R) pose with Michael Johnson (center): Greg Ellis, Dan Lindberg, Logan Cascia and Bill Roach. (Photo courtesy Dan Lindberg/ESPN)
E:60’s production crew (L-R) pose with Michael Johnson (center): Greg Ellis, Dan Lindberg, Logan Cascia and Bill Roach.
(Photo courtesy Dan Lindberg/ESPN)

What are you hoping viewers take away from this piece?
I hope they see a wonderful father who also happens to have a very high profile television job.

What was the most challenging aspect of putting this profile together?
I have been telling people since I started filming with Ernie in 2014 that he is a special person. His story is something that is also special, but he doesn’t do the things he does for accolades or attention. He and his family simply have good hearts. When a person is that genuine, you need to make sure that comes across on screen and sometimes that can be a very difficult thing to do.

What behind-the-scenes aspect didn’t make it into the overall profile?
When we went to film a family dinner – and because Ernie and his wife, Cheryl were not going to let us leave until we put our gear down and sat down with them – Cheryl had remembered from an earlier shoot that one of our cameraman has celiac disease and needs to eat gluten-free.

Of the 15 people she was feeding that night, which included preparing and making five lasagnas – she also took the time to make a sixth, gluten-free lasagna for our colleague. It may not sound like much, but they never saw us as crew members who were working, they just saw and treated us as guests in their home. And Cheryl can cook!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OboOBJy2xHY&feature=youtu.be