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The Host: Edward James Olmos
Edward James Olmos, actor, producer, director and community activist, was born and raised in East Los Angeles and spent many years in theatrical roles until his mesmerizing performance in the 1978 drama/musical “Zoot Suit,” which led to a Tony Award nomination. He later recreated the role for film and went on that year to star in “Wolfen,” “Blade Runner,” and the acclaimed “The Ballad of Gregorio Cortez,” directed by Robert M. Young.
Throughout his career, Olmos’ work has been highly acclaimed. He has received the LA Drama Circle Award, the Emmy, three Emmy nominations, two Golden Globe awards, and in 1988 received an Academy Award nomination for his portrayal of Jaime Escalante, the dedicated math teacher, in “Stand and Deliver,” which he also produced. Most recently, he was awarded the PASS award from the National Council on Crime and Delinquency for producing the anti-domestic violence documentary “It Ain’t Love.”
Olmos’ recent endeavors include:
Americanos “Americanos,” published by Little, Brown in early spring 1999. “Americanos” is being produced in conjunction with the Smithsonian Institution as a five-year national museum tour, a feature documentary on HBO, a book of photographs and text about the Latino community across America, a CD and a concert extravaganza filmed for presentation on PBS’s Great Performances, “Live from Kennedy Center” series.
The Latino Public Broadcasting Project. Olmos was asked by the Corporation of Public Broadcasting to oversee the dispersal of funds for Latino programming on public broadcasting systems across America. The LPBP allocates funds to Latino filmmakers for enhancing and enriching diversity on public television across America
. The 1999 Los Angeles Latino Book & Family Festival. Produced by Olmos, the second Latino Book & Family Festival was held in August 1999 at the L.A. Convention Center. The three-day, non-profit event drew over 32,000 visitors. The festival, which featured leading Latino authors and television personalities such as Victor Villasenor, Luis Rodriguez, Dionicio Morales and Christina Saralegui, had 487 exhibitor booths--a 178% increase over 1997, which made it the largest Latino trade show in American history.
The 1999 Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival. The second annual Latino International Film Festival, also produced by Olmos in 1999, featured the work of more than 70 Latino filmmakers representing 13 countries. An estimated 17, 000 people attended the festival screenings, children's programs and panel discussions.
Olmos’ current film work includes:
1998. Disney’s “Wonderful Ice Cream Suit,” Warner Brothers’ “Gossip and Family: The Joseph Bonnanno Story” 1997. Olmos starred in the Warner Bros film “Selena,” as Abraham Quintanilla and “12 Angry Men” for Showtime which was nominated for five Emmy Awards.
1996. Olmos starred in the ABC miniseries “Dead Man’s Walk,” the prequel to “Lonesome Dove.” He also completed the movie “The Limbic Region” for MGM Showtime. In addition, Olmos starred in the critically acclaimed Sony Pictures classic thriller “Caught,” directed by longtime friend Robert M. Young.
1995. “My Family/Mi Familia,” co-starring Jimmy Smits and Esai Morales, directed by Gregory Nava; “Mirage,” co-starring Sean Young, directed by Paul Williams; “Slave of Dreams,” the Showtime Production, produced by Dino DeLaurentis, and “Roosters,” the American Playhouse Production co-starring Sonja Braga and Maria Conchita Alonso.
1994. Olmos was honored with a Golden Globe Award and nomination for an Emmy Award for his work in the 1994 HBO production “The Burning Season,” the story of the Brazilian political activist Chico Mendes. Olmos also played Jose Menendez in the CBS Mini-Series “Menendez: A Murder in Beverly Hills.” He was also the executive producer of the award-winning documentary “Lives in Hazard,” which premiered that year in April on NBC.
1992. Olmos marked his directorial debut and starred in the powerful feature film “American Me” for his production company, Olmos Productions.
Olmos participates in many humanitarian efforts, which include working with David Rockefeller of the Rockefeller Foundation in the recruitment of new teachers for U. S. schools. Over one million people have contacted Recruiting New Teachers and 200,000 of these have become new teachers.
Olmos has received Honorary Doctorate Degrees from the University of Colorado, Whittier College, California State University, Fresno, Occidental College, and the American Film Institute in Hollywood, as well as being honored by Harvard University. He is the Executive Director of the Lives in Hazard Educational Project, a national gang prevention program funded by the U.S. Department of Justice which has been cited by Attorney General Janet Reno and President Clinton as “one of the foremost programs of its kind.” Olmos is also the Executive Director of “It Ain’t Love,” a program and documentary whose goal is to fight the growing problem of domestic violence.
Olmos is currently the United States Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF. He is a national spokesperson for the following organizations: Voter Registration (Southwest Voter Registration Project), where he helps the Latino Community in its pursuit of citizenship and voter registration; Juvenile Diabetes Foundation, and The AIDS Awareness Foundation. Olmos serves on the boards of Recruiting New Teachers; Twentieth Century Fund, UCLA School of Film and Theater; UCLA mentoring program; Miami Children’s Hospital; Los Angeles Children’s Hospital; National Council on Adoption; Children’s Action Network, Hollywood Supports and OneNetNow.Com.
He also serves as a trustee for the National Hispanic University, Plaza del Raza, and Whittier College.
Olmos has always had a strong passion for the arts and humanities. He commits to over 150 speaking engagements annually at schools, charities and juvenile institutions across the country. He played an instrumental role in the clean-up efforts the Los Angeles riots, the 1994 Los Angeles earthquake and Hurricane in Florida, and most recently, Hurricane Mitch in Central America.
Extensive research went into the selection of the teachers appearing in the program. The producer selected the candidates after reviewing lists of teachers from the NBPTS, the U.S. Department of Education’s “National Teacher of the Year” program and referrals from NBPTS staff members, other NBPTS board-certified teachers, staff members from the Governor’s Education Office and other contacts.
The final selection was made after conducting phone interviews with potential candidates. Selection was based on the teachers’ willingness to participate in the program, their ability to demonstrate NBPTS’ five core principles of teaching and their location in one of the partner states in the “Models of Teaching Project.” Special attention was also paid to finding a diverse group of teachers in terms of grade level, subject matter, gender, race, community/demographics and geographic location. All of the teachers except for Susan Armenta in San Diego are NBTS certified.
The crew spent two to three days at each location shooting each teacher’s methods and techniques. Interviews were held with the teachers, their principals, some of their students, and some of the students’ parents. Relevant footage was also shot at the school and around the community.
An award-winning television producer and journalist with more than 15 years experience in broadcasting, Clay Johnson is the producer of No Greater Calling. Johnson earned a degree in broadcast journalism from the University of South Carolina and began his career in radio news. Two years later he moved to television and worked for the next nine years as a television news reporter and producer at network affiliate stations in the Carolinas.
In 1994, Johnson was appointed Deputy Press Secretary to North Carolina Governor Jim Hunt, where he specialized in developing broadcast communication strategy for Hunt and his policy initiatives. After two years, Johnson left the Hunt administration to return to television, starting his own company, Clay Johnson Productions, Inc. Since then Johnson has produced and written two nationally syndicated travel shows, several documentaries and educational programs, feature segments for UNC-TV’s North Carolina Now program and dozens of educational videos.