‘Entertainment Tonight’ producer joins Hall of Honor



SIDNEY — The Sidney City Schools Hall of Honor will add four new inductees on Friday, April 22, 2022, at 7 p.m. in the Sidney High School auditorium to celebrate 27 years of the Hall of Honor and increase membership to 135 since its founding. Of those to receive the highest honor bestowed by Sidney City Schools is Erin Johnson, Executive Producer of “Entertainment Tonight.”

The connection between the Sidney City Schools and Johnson started in 1993 with a promise from then-Superintendent Lew Blackford to take her to Northwood School on her first day of sixth grade. Johnson was nervous about starting over in a new school in a new town, but this simple gesture helped quell her fears. It was the first of many examples of how her community would support her.

Johnson quickly began to thrive in her new surroundings and took advantage of every opportunity SCS had to offer. She kept herself busy with an overload of activities, athletics, and rigorous academics. When being dropped off at school for one of her many events, she would always tell her parents “I love you” and then follow with “I’ll do my best.” That mantra led to many successes. Johnson set a school record in cross country and was a Junior Olympic athlete representing Sidney in two national races. In 2000, she graduated as co-valedictorian and went on to Washington and Lee University where she expanded a volunteer program she created in high school that helps non-English speaking families to universities throughout Virginia.

Once in college, Johnson found her calling in broadcast journalism because it allowed her to share the stories of others. It was a natural fit for this self-proclaimed “people person” and fortunately she was well-prepared because Sidney’s English department made sure her writing skills matched her passion for impactful storytelling.

Johnson graduated with honors in 2004 and began living her dream of producing daily television. First as a local news producer in Dayton, then in Cincinnati, and finally in San Diego. That last move was significant because it brought her closer to her dream of working in Hollywood.

Johnson’s first LA job was a bit of a risk. It was only guaranteed for eight weeks, but she was never one to play it safe. She took the leap, impressed the right people, and turned that two-month gig into a contract offer that had her producing a Super Bowl commercial for NBC and the Olympics before the year was over. From there Johnson worked on some of the biggest shows in daytime TV including “Ellen,” “The Talk” and “Live with Kelly & Michael.” She would go on to launch the celebrity news show “Dish Nation” for Fox proving to her father that she could indeed get paid for watching television.

In 2013, Johnson—who once ruled the pop culture category on the SHS Academia team — landed her dream job at “Entertainment Tonight.” She started on the digital side and overhauled how the company produced videos for the website. In six months ETonline.com went from 150,000 video streams a month to more than 20 million. Those numbers moved ET into the top spot for entertainment news videos on the internet.

A string of promotions happened quickly after that, and in 2019 Johnson was named executive producer. She now runs the entire ET brand. There are not many people under the age of 40 who find themselves with this type of responsibility in Hollywood. In fact, Johnson is the youngest EP in the history of her division at CBS. The show is actually older than she is, and that often results in celebrities being surprised when Johnson greets them and thanks them for being on the show.

Under Johnson’s leadership, “Entertainment Tonight” became the #1 entertainment news brand in the world. The show airs in 117 countries daily and kicked off its 41st season in September. Johnson’s efforts have won her four Emmy awards. She now travels the world to interview the biggest celebrities, but she is happiest when traveling home to Sidney. It’s here that Johnson feels the most loved and supported. Her hometown is on her mind every day. As she produces for television, she always asks herself, “will the people at home like this?” Perhaps it’s not surprising then that ET’s top-rated market is Dayton, and that the show airs on the station (WHIO-Channel 7) where Johnson received her first on-screen producing credit while working as an intern in the summer of 2003.

Other members of the induction class being honored are Congressman Warren Davidson (SHS 1988), Eric Harlamert (SHS 1976), and the late Rob Joslin (SHS 1971). A gymnasium reception will precede the ceremony beginning at 6 p.m. in the gymnasium; both events are open to the public.