[11/05/19 - 08:05 AM]
"Ernie & Joe: Crisis Cops," A Riveting Look at Innovative Police Responses to Mental Health Crises Debuts November 19, Exclusively on HBO
In San Antonio, Texas, a small team of police officers are responding to individuals going through mental health crises in an innovative way and putting compassionate policing practices into action with dramatically positive results.

[via press release from HBO]

ERNIE & JOE: CRISIS COPS, a Riveting Look at Innovative Police Responses to Mental Health Crises Debuts November 19, Exclusively on HBO

In San Antonio, Texas, a small team of police officers are responding to individuals going through mental health crises in an innovative way and putting compassionate policing practices into action with dramatically positive results. ERNIE AND JOE: CRISIS COPS follows Texas police officers Ernie Stevens and Joe Smarro, who are part of the San Antonio Police Department's thirteen member Mental Health Unit. Chronicling their daily and sometimes harrowing encounters with people in crisis, the documentary shows how their innovative approach to policing, which takes mental health into account, can help diffuse dangerous, potentially deadly situations and lead people to critical mental health services instead of jail - one 911 call at a time.

Directed by Jenifer McShane ("Mothers of Bedford") and debuting TUESDAY, NOV. 19 (9:00-10:40 p.m. ET/PT), the film offers a verité portrait of the two partners and friends who share a unique bond and offers viewers an intimate glimpse into their personal lives.

The documentary will also be available on HBO NOW, HBO GO, HBO On Demand and partners' streaming platforms.

At a time when one in five Americans has a mental health diagnosis and police are often the first responders to individuals in crisis, ERNIE & JOE: CRISIS COPS shows how techniques like active listening, building rapport and using non-threatening body language are having dramatic effects on the way police respond to these challenges. During one of his first crisis intervention trainings, Officer Ernie Stevens was inspired to help establish the Mental Health Unit (MHU) after he recalled hearing from a mother who was afraid that one day an officer might have to shoot or kill her son with a mental illness. Hoping to prevent people with mental illness from being criminalized, the San Antonio Police Department started their mental health unit as a six-month pilot project and soon expanded from two to four officers, including Ernie's partner, Officer Joe Smarro.

Ten years older than Joe, Ernie initially thought Joe was an arrogant kid when he first joined the MHU, but now says, "I hit the lottery," having Joe as his partner. Ernie took Joe under his wing, and in turn became inspired by Joe to go back to college after 17 years to finish his BA. A combat veteran, Joe talks openly about his own struggles with depression and PTSD from his service in Iraq, which he manages through therapy and painting. They often divide who takes the lead on a call, with Joe handling situations involving veterans because he "speaks their language" as a former Marine, and Ernie handling calls involving kids because those are more difficult for Joe.

In addition to their MHU detail, Joe and Ernie do overtime shifts together, in which they catch up and decompress between calls with humor and small talk. On one nightshift, their usual banter is interrupted when a call comes in about a woman threatening to jump from a highway overpass. In dashcam footage, Ernie and Joe carefully approach and try to calm the distraught woman who says she's a drug addict and is hearing voices. She tells the officers, "I'm broken!" "You might be broken," says Ernie, "but you're fixable." Later, Joe and Ernie respond to a call involving a suicidal man in a parking lot who says he has a gun. Trying to connect with the young man, Joe shares his own history of childhood abuse and suicidal thoughts. Eventually removing the man's gun and bringing him to an emergency treatment center, Joe says he realizes these are the first, crucial steps but wishes they could do more.

With the MHU starting to draw first responders from outside of Texas, all officers including police academy cadets in San Antonio are now required to take 40 hours of crisis intervention training. In trainings, student officers and volunteers role-play mental health crises, teaching important techniques in answering mental health calls. In one such training, Joe tells the story of trying to de-escalate a situation involving a suicidal woman in her driveway with a gun. The police had sent multiple heavily armed officers in traditional squad cars. But Joe was able to reach the woman on her cellphone and talk her into releasing the weapon, avoiding a dangerous escalation. As he recalls, "I didn't think about 'gun'... I thought about 'person in crisis'."

Regular follow-ups with the people they help are also a part of the MHU's approach. Ernie and Joe visit the woman they saved from jumping off the highway overpass and are happy to see that she is doing well. But the path to long-term treatment and recovery is not always easy. Sometimes there are setbacks and they often wish they could do more. With a new approach to policing, come new challenges for the officers - but the MHU's approach is clearly better than the alternative.

In addition to capturing Ernie and Joe at work, the film highlights the bond shared by the two men and their support of each other's personal growth. Ernie and Joe's passion for their work, combined with their deep rapport, makes clear the value of finding human connections during the most difficult times.

The film made its world premiere at the SXSW Film Festival, where it received Special Jury Recognition.

ERNIE & JOE: CRISIS COPS was directed and produced by Jenifer McShane; executive produced by Andrea Meditch; cinematographer, E.J. Enriquez; editor, Toby Shimin; score by Tyler Strickland.

  [november 2019]  

(series past and present)
(series in development)
(tv movies and mini-series)

[12/13/19 - 11:44 AM]
A Call of the Wildcats, "High School Musical: The Musical: The Series: The Special" Debuts on ABC Owned TV Stations Beginning Saturday, Dec. 14, and Friday, Dec. 20, on Disney+
The special takes viewers to the "High School Musical" set during filming in 2005, including archived video from the "Zac Cam" behind the scenes as filmed by Zac Efron with Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Tisdale, Monique Coleman, Alyson Reed and Olesya Rulin.

[12/13/19 - 10:06 AM]
Jennifer Hudson Returns to "Voice" Stage Along with Black Eyed Peas, Luke Combs, Lady Antebellum, Dua Lipa and Season 16 Winner Maelyn to Perform on Live "Voice" Finale Airing Tuesday, Dec. 17
The season finale will also feature special musical collaborations with the Top 4 finalists, which will be announced soon.

[12/13/19 - 10:03 AM]
Hulu's "Little Fires Everywhere" Premieres March 18th
Based on Celeste Ng's 2017 bestseller, "Little Fires Everywhere" follows the intertwined fates of the picture-perfect Richardson family and an enigmatic mother and daughter who upend their lives.

[12/13/19 - 09:22 AM]
"Delicious Miss Brown" Returns with Brand-New Menu of Southern Dishes, Family Traditions and Sea Island Culture
The series returns to Food Network on Sunday, January 5.

[12/13/19 - 09:00 AM]
TBS' "Full Frontal with Samantha Bee" Visits Hong Kong
"There was a huge march the day we left of hundreds of thousands of people - I'm sure it was in celebration of us being there and not people being excited we were leaving," said Bee.

[12/13/19 - 08:22 AM]
MTV Studios and Quibi Tap Keke Palmer to Host "Singled Out"
"I am thrilled to be hosting 'Singled Out'" said Keke Palmer. "To be able to reimagine this show for my generation and on a new platform is so exciting. Can't wait for you guys to see what we have in store!"

[12/13/19 - 08:15 AM]
Thursday's Broadcast Ratings: "Thursday Night Football" Holds Onto Top Spot for FOX
The network leads the evening in total viewers and adults 18-49.

[12/13/19 - 08:01 AM]
Video: "Dracula" - Teaser - Netflix
Claes Bang stars as Dracula in this brand-new series inspired by Bram Stoker's classic novel.

[12/12/19 - 03:15 PM]
Amazon Studios Orders Fourth Season of the Award-Winning Comedy "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel"
"We were thrilled to hear that for the fourth time, we do not have to pack up and vacate the premises," said Amy Sherman-Palladino and Daniel Palladino.

[12/12/19 - 01:50 PM]
Lifetime's New Documentary Film Series "Hopelessly in Love" Explores Iconic and Tragic Celebrity Unions in Pop Culture History as a Three-Week Event This January
Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes and Andre Rison; Faith Evans and Notorious B.I.G.; and Anna Nicole Smith and Larry Birkhead are the featured topics.

[12/12/19 - 01:01 PM]
IFC's "Brockmire" Swings for the Fences in Its Fourth and Final Season Premiering in March 2020
Returning for the series' final season are Amanda Peet, Tyrel Jackson Williams and Katie Finneran.

[12/12/19 - 12:55 PM]
HBO Documentary Films Acquires David France's "Welcome to Chechnya" Ahead of Its World Premiere at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival
This searing documentary shadows a group of brave activists risking their lives to confront the ongoing anti-LGBTQ persecution in the repressive and closed Russian republic of Chechnya.

[12/12/19 - 12:29 PM]
USA Network Reveals Premiere Dates for Rosario Dawson Led Anthology Series "Briarpatch" and New Story of Critically-Acclaimed Series "The Sinner"
Look for both series back-to-back beginning Thursday, February 6 at 9:00/8:00c.

[12/12/19 - 12:26 PM]
Walt Disney Television Renews "Tamron Hall" for a Second Season
"As one of the highest-rated new talk shows in five years, 'Tamron Hall' is connecting with audiences in such a powerful and unique way, and we are thrilled to build on that momentum with a second season," said Karey Burke.

[12/12/19 - 11:54 AM]
HGTV Picks Up a New Season of "Flip or Flop" with Christina Anstead and Tarek El Moussa
The season finale will air on Thursday, December 12, with the new episodes slated to premiere in August 2020.