Skip to content

Press Releases

  • “Smoke Screen: The Sellout,” New Season of Hit Investigative Podcast Series From Neon Hum, Premieres Today
  • Oct 26, 2021

The Sellout Follows the Rise and Fall of Disgraced Los Angeles Politician Jose Huizar, Who is Facing Trial on Bribery and Other Charges

First Two Episodes Are Available Now

Subscribe on Apple Podcasts for Early Access and Bonus Content

New York and Los Angeles – October 26, 2021 – Neon Hum, in partnership with Sony Music Entertainment, today announced the premiere of “The Sellout,” the newest season of the investigative franchise “Smoke Screen.” Over the past year, Neon Hum teamed up with grassroots media organization L.A. TACO to make this nine-episode season of the podcast. Hosted by seasoned L.A. journalist Mariah Castañeda, “The Sellout” focuses on the rise and fall of Los Angeles city councilmember Jose Huizar, as well as the impact of his betrayal on his constituents. Huizar was arrested last year for allegedly taking bribes from real estate developers interested in building luxury housing and hotels in his district. His trial is currently set for May 2022. The first two episodes are available now

Huizar grew up in Boyle Heights, a working-class Latinx neighborhood in Los Angeles. He eventually became their councilperson. Huizar’s constituents saw him as a hometown hero, until the day the FBI raided his home and offices, accusing him of leading a criminal enterprise based in city hall. He stands accused of taking bribes from luxury real estate developers as longtime Boyle Heights residents were displaced from their homes. Huizar’s alleged actions reshaped the district, spurring on rapid gentrification in downtown LA, and rent spikes, evictions, and displacement in other parts of the district, including Boyle Heights.

Over the series, Castañeda (“cas – ta – nye – da”) investigates how Huizar got the power to do what he did and who helped him do it. The show features conversations with Huizar’s constituents, many of whom were fighting gentrification and displacement in their neighborhoods, unaware that their councilmember was allegedly taking bribes behind closed doors. “Smoke Screen: The Sellout” also digs into the charges against Huizar and the stories of people who warned years ahead of time that something shady might be happening in Huizar’s office.

“I spent over a year reporting on this story about Jose Huizar and his how impact on the residents of Boyle Heights provides a window into the gentrification crisis facing communities across America,” said host Mariah Castañeda “While Smoke Screen: The Sellout’ is the tale of Jose Huizar, the story we’re telling is universal and will resonate with listeners whose neighborhoods are changing and who feel betrayed by their political leaders.” 

“The Sellout” was reported by Mariah Castañeda and Lexis-Olivier Ray at L.A.TACO and Carla Green at Neon Hum. Carla Green is the show’s lead producer and she wrote the episodes. The show’s editor is Catherine Saint Louis and executive producer is Jonathan Hirsch.

Subscribers on Apple Podcasts can get early access to weekly episodes starting Monday, November 1 and special bonus episodes featuring exclusive content. Listeners can go to lataco.com to access a map of locations featured on the show in L.A.

Listeners can subscribe to “Smoke Screen: The Sellout” on all major podcast platforms, including Apple Podcasts, Spotify and Stitcher. For more information on “Smoke Screen: The Sellout” and all other Sony Podcast shows, follow @SonyPodcasts on Twitter and Instagram.

Back To Top