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James Dalessandro was born in Cleveland, Ohio, and attended the Ohio University School of Journalism and UCLA Film School. In 1973, he founded the Santa Cruz Poetry Festival with Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Ken Kesey, which became the nation’s largest literary event during its four year run. Lawrence Ferlinghetti credited him with launching “a new birth of American poetry” and called him “one of the new breed of young, populist writers who has something to say, quite clearly, about life on the wild side.” He has published four books: Canary in a Coal Mine (1973, poetry, Sanguine Books); Bohemian Heart (1993, noir thriller, St. Martin’s Press), Citizen Jane (1998, true crime, Putnam Penguin); and the best-selling 1906 (2004, historical thriller, Chronicle Books).
He has been a member of the Writers Guild of America, west, since 1983, and has sold or been hired on more than 20 feature film and television projects. In September, 2009, Hallmark Channel broadcast the original movie “Citizen Jane” – their only true life/true crime story – for which he was both screenwriter and producer. He is the screenwriter of the upcoming Pixar/Warner Brothers live action film “1906”, based on this novel. He was the writer of the nationally syndicated radio program, “The House of Blues Radio Hour” with Dan Aykroyd” and “Rock On” with Doors keyboardist Ray Manzarek.
He is the award winning writer/director/producer of the documentary Film “The Damnedest, Finest Ruins” (KQED-PBS, 2011). He has written for The Examiner newspapers and published feature articles in San Francisco Magazine and Playboy.
As of December 2012, “Telegraph Hill,” a television series based on Bohemian Heart is in development with James as a writer/executive producer in partnership with Oscar winning screenwriter Bobby Moresco (CRASH, MILLION DOLLAR BABY) for EntertainmentOne Television.
He teaches Advanced Screenwriting and Television Writing at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco, and lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with his wife, Katie and best pal Giaccomo Poochini.