More Than a Movie

More Than a Movie

S2: On this season of More Than a Movie, host Alex Fumero takes us through some of our favorite films that have impacted Latino Cinema. From Andy Garcia’s 1990 breakout role in Godfather III to Natalie Morales’s 2021 double directorial debut with Plan B and Language Lessons, this podcast looks at the story behind the story of Latino movies over the last several decades. Every episode will reveal something about the movie you didn’t know, feature interviews with the biggest actors, directors, writers and producers behind them, and tap into the history of Latinos in film. S1: When Edward James Olmos set out on his directorial debut, American Me, he wanted to accomplish two things: to represent Chicano culture on the big screen and to save part of his community from gang violence. But when people were allegedly murdered because of their participation in the film and Olmos himself was allegedly extorted by the real life Mexican Mafia, it exposed the unintended risks of trying to represent someone with an agenda in mind, even a well-meaning one. On the 30th anniversary of the cult classic, host Alex Fumero and producer Nigel Duara delve into the true story of American Me and the legacy the controversial film left behind.


August 30, 2022 1 min

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American Me was supposed to help end gang violence — instead, it may have led to the murders of at least three people.

Host Alex Fumero unpacks the story of American Me, a film directed by legendary Latino actor Edward James Olmos, and his choice to base the film on a real-life gang called the Mexican Mafia or La Eme. Did Olmos' decision to fictionalize the lives of these men lead to the murders of several crew members?

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September 15, 2022 38 mins

Edward James Olmos is one of the most decorated and respected actors alive, especially in the Latino community. Who is the man responsible for American Me, and why did he make it?

Most of us know Edward James Olmos as a legendary actor, but he's also an activist who for decades has worked on behalf of Latino causes from Hollywood to Washington D.C. But when both of those sides of him collided to make a movie that would stop gang vi...

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September 22, 2022 38 mins

Actor Jacob Vargas shares his experience on and off screen with gangs, movies and American Me.


Jacob Vargas caught a big break when at the age of 20 he was tapped to play Paulito in American Me. Since then he's had a career most actors would envy and continues starring in TV and film even today. How has he thrived as a Latino in Hollywood? What was it like being a kid in LA growing up around real gangs? And what impact did Americ...

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The actors who played Puppet and Little Puppet, Danny de la Paz and Daniel Villarreal, share their experiences on-set and in the aftermath.


Danny de la Paz (Puppet) and Daniel Villarreal (Little Puppet) weren't just actors cast in American Me — they were part of a family of actors and filmmakers assembled by Edward James Olmos over the years that culminated with two powerful performances in American Me. They also share how the ne...

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October 6, 2022 31 mins

Actor Sal Lopez spent months close to Edward James Olmos on the set of American Me and remembers the day he was told that people from the movie were dying. 

Sal Lopez trained as a dancer, but his real breakout was when he went to his first casting call. Sal was part of the first wave of Mexican American actors to break into the mainstream, and American Me would be his magnum opus. But Sal was also in France at the peak of the movie...

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October 13, 2022 36 mins

Milton Grimes represented a Mexican Mafia leader who sued the production of American Me for stealing his life story.

Milton Grimes represented Rodney King after his beating by the LAPD. He has served as a defense attorney in nine death penalty cases in 56 jury trials, and once got the call to represent notorious gang leader Joe “Peg Leg“ Morgan in his lawsuit against the movie.

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Writer Erick Galindo grew up with American Me and remembers vividly the impact it had on the streets of L.A.

Podcaster and writer Erick Galindo doesn't hold back in the recounting of his childhood in East and Southeast LA in the 1990s. And in those days, the movie that every kid in the barrio knew backwards and forwards was American Me. Erick says he saw firsthand how the film impacted recruitment into gangs and the word on the str...

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While American Me was being filmed, a documentary was being shot behind the scenes following the real-life gangsters who were working on the movie.

Filmmakers Susan Todd and Andy Young join the podcast to talk about "Lives In Hazard" the documentary they made behind the scenes about the neighborhood gang members and the inmates at Folsom who were integrated into the cast and crew. We'll hear about the real-life or death scenarios b...

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November 3, 2022 30 mins

Antoinette Levine was one of the best-known location managers in Hollywood when Edward James Olmos asked her to get him into a prison. 

Antoinette Levine was one of the premier Hollywood location managers in the early 1990s, with a talent for finding gritty Los Angeles backdrops for directors like Tony Scott. When she pitched Edward James Olmos on her vision, he went for it — then asked her to get him into Folsom Prison. With some ...

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Danny Haro was Edward James Olmos' right-hand man during his extortion and the production of the movie

Danny Haro worked with Edward James Olmos throughout his career and was instrumental as the link between the filmmaker and the Mexican Mafia. He coordinated the delivery of the script to the prison and served as the go-between for Olmos and the Mexican Mafia. 


More Than a Movie: American Me is a podcast that digs into the histor...

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A former member of the Mexican Mafia who was in the criminal syndicate at the time of the movie, explains how it all went down.

A former member of the Mexican Mafia explains the process of extorting Edward James Olmos and the fallout on the street after the release of the movie, including the reasons for the killings of people who participated. He explains how the gang works, to what they took offense, and why people died. 


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November 24, 2022 27 mins

We recap what we've learned, especially the whirlwind final months when we got to the bottom of what happened here.

We set out to find out what happened during and after the production of the movie American Me. It took six months, but we think we've determined who did what, and why they did it. Instead of fuzzy memories and street rumors, we finally talked to some of the people closest to the events. We put the events in context fo...

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February 15, 2023 45 mins

In More Than A Movie, host Alex Fumero dissects a cultural phenomenon and looks at its impact on different communities. EXILE Content Studio’s latest podcast Shoot the Messenger: Espionage, Murder, & Pegasus Software (subscribe here) is a deep dive into one of the hottest phenomenons today - cybersecurity and spyware. We all use our phones daily, as almost an extension of ourselves - but what happens when our phones are no long...

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On this season of More Than a Movie, host Alex Fumero takes us through some of our favorite films that have impacted Latino Cinema. From Andy Garcia’s 1990 breakout role in Godfather III to Natalie Morales’s 2021 double directorial debut with Plan B and Language Lessons, this podcast looks at the story behind the story of Latino movies over the last several decades. Every episode will reveal something about the movie you didn’t kno...

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“I remember saying to myself, ‘that’s my part.’” For the season two premiere of More Than a Movie, we sat down with Andy Garcia to discuss the path to his legendary acting career, navigating Hollywood as a Latino, and manifesting his role as the successor to the most notorious crime boss in film history.

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“I didn’t think I had a shot at Richie.” Nearly 40 years after its release, La Bamba remains a cinematic landmark for representation and one of the highest-grossing Latino films of all time. We interviewed the star of the movie, Lou Diamond Phillips, about  landing his big break, inhabiting the role of Chicano music icon Richie Valens, and bonding with the late singer’s family on set.

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"There’s a whole audience you’re missing.” On this episode of More Than a Movie, we met with the producer of La Bamba, Academy Award winning filmmaker Taylor Hackford, and explored how a white kid from Santa Barbara ended up becoming the driving force behind a film about a Mexican-American rock star. We talked everything from obtaining life rights to casting Lou Diamond Phillips, and what it truly means to be an ally in Hollywood.


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“I walked out of the play.” Fresh off winning a Student Academy Award, Colombian filmmaker Patricia Cardoso was looking for her next film project. After some initial hesitation, she decided to adapt the much-beloved (but somewhat problematic) stage play Real Women Have Curves into what would become a major Sundance sensation.  We sat down with Patricia to talk about the changes from stage to screen, discovering a young America Ferr...

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“You need to help me cast the Vatos Locos.” Season one of More Than a Movie offered a deep dive on American Me - Edward James Olmos’ notorious directorial debut about the formation of a real-life Mexican prison gang. In this episode, we take a look at the film that came just one year later - allegedly delayed in part because of the release of and reception to American Me - that has a startlingly similar premise, but a lot more hear...

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