BLOUNTVILLE, Tenn. - From blue lights to Hollywood lights -- the Sullivan County Sheriff's Department is set to be featured in a TV reality show on Tuesday night. It all started with a call from the National Geographic channel.
"I thought it was a joke at first, if you want to know the truth," Sheriff Wayne Anderson said. "But, it turns out it wasn't a joke and it was a very big firm in Hollywood that wanted to do this. I said, well, let's try it and see how it works."
The show is called Southern Justice and it profiles what it's like to ride along on calls with sheriff's officers in a southern town. TV crews spent several weeks along for the ride with patrolman-detective Sam Matney.
He tells us they filmed footage about as close to reality as you can get. "This is definitely not a scripted-type show," Matney said. "Whereas a lot of the reality shows say they're reality but in fact they're very scripted, this was not."
Scripted or not, it seems cop reality shows are almost everywhere you turn on the dial. But Sheriff Anderson tells us this one will be different since Nat Geo will also showcase much of the scenery and positive aspects of the county. "It's not just going to be patrol all the time," Anderson said. "Arresting a drunk or whatever. They'll show a lot of different things about the county and we're selling our county to the world."
For now, the Southern Justice show will air as a pilot. Depending on viewing numbers, it could become a series in the fall. This department will be especially tuned in, and ready to deal with possible newfound fame.
"Whether this show becomes famous or not, whether people know me or not, I'll still be just simple me. I'll keep doing my job no matter what," Matney said.
"A majority of the people in Sullivan County already know me," Lieutenant Jeff Parker added. "So I don't really see a problem with it."
Look for the Southern Justice show starring the Sullivan County Sheriff's Office Tuesday night, April 15 at 10 p.m., and again at midnight on the National Geographic channel.