The screenwriter for Eva Longoria’s upcoming film about the creation of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos recently defended the story behind the film, following suggestions by Frito-Lay that the project is based on a false narrative.
“Did Richard [Montañez] embellish a little bit? Was his memory faulty here or there? Who knows,” screenwriter Lewis Colick told Variety. “The truth is the product.” Colick added that the more he has gotten to know Montañez, the more he has realized what an extraordinary man he is, noting, “He’s not just a janitor who had a brainstorm.”
The screenwriter also explained that, when creating film adaptations, some things will inevitably get lost in translation or elaborated on for entertainment value. “We’re not in the documentary business,” he added. “I’ve written a lot of true stories, like October Sky. Not every single thing in the story is exactly true. I always stand behind the essence of the story.”
Colick’s comments came just days after Frito-Lay told The Los Angeles Times in an official statement claiming that Montañez’s story about coming up with the idea for the spicy variety of Cheetos was an “urban legend.”
The official statement from Frito-Lay read,
None of our records show that Richard was involved in any capacity in the Flamin’ Hot test market. We have interviewed multiple personnel who were involved in the test market, and all of them indicate that Richard was not involved in any capacity in the test market. That doesn’t mean we don’t celebrate Richard, but the facts do not support the urban legend.
Montañez responded by defending his version of events, explaining, “All I can tell you is what I did. All I have is my history, what I did in my kitchen.”
One of the key scenes in Montañez’s story, which is expected to appear in the film, involves an alleged pitch meeting in which Montañez proposed Flamin’ Hot Cheetos to a room of more than 100 people, including the CEO. Frito-Lay told the Times, however, the meeting never happened.
“Who was at the meeting? I don’t know. I don’t care,” Colick said. “Were there 50 people there? A hundred people? I don’t care. Did he do a presentation? I’m sure he did.”
Colick also shared that, until releasing the statement to the Times, Frito-Lay had cooperated in the production and even invited him for a tour of the company’s Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., facility. “They laid out the red carpet for us,” he recalled. “There was no talk of, ‘You guys are writing a movie about a guy who had nothing to do with Flamin’ Hot Cheetos.'”
He added, “It’s just a great story. For it to be sullied this way, it’s just a shame.”
Directed by Longoria, Flamin’ Hot stars Jesse Garcia and Annie Gonzalez. The film does not yet have a release date.