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Eva Longoria Credits ‘Desperate Housewives’ As Her “Film School” Years Before Directing ‘Flamin’ Hot’



Eva Longoria may just now be making her feature film directorial debut with Flamin’ Hotbut she’s been laying the groundwork for nearly 20 years — all the way back to her breakout role on Desperate Housewives.

After a decade of directing TV episodes for shows including Black-ish, Jane the Virgin and The Gordita ChroniclesLongoria noted that for Flamin’ Hot “All of my TV experience paid off because we moved at a very ambitious, fast pace and this movie was very ambitious in our scheduling. I really think wow, all of my 10 years in TV prepared me for this moment, which is a film set.”

“And I used Desperate Housewives as my film school, that’s where I really learned everything,” she continued at Friday’s Los Angeles premiere of the movie, which tells the story of Richard Montañez, a Frito Lay janitor who says he came up with the idea for Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. “We had so many directors come through there and so many episodes; 10 years on a set and I paid attention.” And speaking of the hit series, the carpet served as a mini Desperate Housewives reunion when Jesse Metcalfe dropped by to hug Longoria and pose for photos together.

The movie’s stars also sang Longoria’s praises as a director, with Jesse Garcia (who plays Montañez) applauding her for being “very specific on the story she wanted to tell, being very passionate about telling Richard’s story.” Annie Gonzalez (who plays Montañez’s wife Judy) added that Longoria was, “an executor through and through — we’ve seen it from her philanthropic work, she has non-profits, she’s produced TV shows, she’s directed TV that’s been brilliant, this is no different. When Eva does something, she does [it] to totality, and she does it amazingly.”

Amidst Montañez’s heroic story — which he documented in his own book, detailing his eventual journey to becoming a vice president at Frito-Lay’s parent company PepsiCo — questions have arisen about his narrative. The Los Angeles Times published a story in 2021 that alleged that Montañez actually did not invent the Flamin’ Hot Cheeto, reporting that a Frito-Lay internal investigation had revealed that another segment of the company had developed the product and had no record that Montañez was involved in the creation or test market. The story broke just before Flamin’ Hot started shooting.

Shortly after, PepsiCo issued a statement that “the information we shared with the media has been misconstrued by some” and attributed “the launch and success of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos and other products to several people who worked at PepsiCo, including Richard Montañez.” It also added, “we have no reason to doubt the stories he shares about taking the initiative to create new product ideas for the Cheetos brand.”

Producer DeVon Franklin told The News84Media that the report never put the movie in danger as “I had gone to meet with the PepsiCo and Frito-Lay execs back in 2019, it was years before. I sat down with them and got all of the information that I needed to get; a lot of information was already in the article, so we had already incorporated a lot of the information that we got into the script,” he said, confirming no updates were made to address the LA Times story

“When the article came out it wasn’t like there was anything in there that we didn’t already know, and that’s why when people see the movie they’ll see the true story,” Franklin continued. “They will see how all of these things worked together. Frito-Lay and PepsiCo have seen the film, and they’re proud of the film, and they feel like we did not only Richard justice but the Hot Cheeto justice.”

Montañez himself walked the carpet alongside wife Judy, noting that they didn’t read the story but have heard the details. “I’m used to fighting my entire life — since the day I was born I’ve been fighting, I’ll probably fight until the day I die, and that’s the story of the person who comes from the places we come from. It’s always a struggle,” he said in response. “But I’m so happy for the movie because it gives answers to every question you may have about it, so I’m happy with that.”

And on a film where Hot Cheetos play a central character, just how many were consumed on set?

Longoria said she opted for white cheddar Cheetos since Flamin’ Hots weren’t actively part of shooting until the end of the movie; Garcia revealed, “I ate exactly five. I had my first Hot Cheeto during the take where I tasted the Hot Cheeto off the line, and we did five takes.”

Diane Warren, who wrote the original song “The Fire Inside” (performed by Becky G) for the film, teased she even got into the snack for inspiration: “When I saw the rough cut of the movie I did eat a bag, and it was pretty spicy, like oh ‘The Fire Inside,’ OK. It really was.”

Flamin’ Hot is now streaming on Hulu and Disney+.

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