James Dalessandro (born 1948) is an American writer and film maker. He is best known for his historical-fiction novel 1906 (Chronicle Books, 2005), a story based on the events surrounding the great San Francisco earthquake and fire of 1906.
James Dalessandro was born in Cleveland, Ohio on September 3, 1948, and attended Valley Forge High School. He received his BA degree at Ohio University, in Athens, Ohio, and studied screenwriting at UCLA, but did not receive a degree. For many years, he worked as a writer in the trailer/marketing department at Columbia Pictures, where he worked on dozens of films.
From 1973-77, he was co-founder of The Santa Cruz Poetry Festival, with Lawrence Ferlinghetti, and served as its director for four years. As the nation's largest annual literary festival, it brought Charles Bukowski, William S. Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg, Ken Kesey, Michael McClure, Gary Snyder, and musicians like Anthony Braxton and Charles Lloyd to the seaside town of Santa Cruz, which set attendance records (over 2,000 people per night) at the Civic Auditorium. It ushered in what Lawrence Ferlinghetti called "A new birth of American Poetry."
Dalessandro was also the writer of "The House of Blues Radio Hour," which was hosted by Dan Aykroyd (as Elwood Blues) during the period in which it won the "Platinum Award" from the National Broadcasters Association. He was also the writer/creator of "Rock On" with The Doors' keyboardist Ray Manzarek. Both projects were produced for Ben Manilla Productions of San Francisco.
He has published four books, Canary In A Coal Mine (poetry), Bohemian Heart a work of detective fiction published in 1993, Citizen Jane (true crime), and 1906 (historical fiction).
In September 2009, Hallmark Channel broadcast the movie "Citizen Jane", the story of Jane Alexander, a Marin County woman who had spent 13 years tracking down and helping to convict the man who had murdered her 88-year old aunt. Dalessandro wrote the teleplay and served as one of the film's producers. He has also written the pilot for a series based on "Citizen Jane" which is under active development with producer Larry Jacobson and Entertainment One. He is the award winning writer, director and producer of the documentary film, THE DAMNEDEST, FINEST RUINS, narrated by actor Peter Coyote, which a definitive look at the great San Francisco Earthquake and Fire, which Robert Ericksson of the History Channel called "astonishing."
The January, 2010 issue of PLAYBOY ran his feature article "Petrosino v. The Black Hand", the story of Joseph Petrosino, a New York shoeshine boy who was drafted into the NYPD to combat crime in Little Italy, launching his 26 year battle with the American Mafia. A series based on "Petrosino" is development with writing/producing partner Bobby Moresco, Oscar winner for CRASH and MILLION DOLLAR BABY.
He teaches screenwriting at Academy of Art University in San Francisco. He has lectured at the Cinequest Film Festival and the L.A. Screenwriting Expo. He formerly taught "Screenwriting as a Pro" at Fort Mason Art Center in San Francisco.
He is married (since 1988) and has an adopted son.
|This article relies on references to primary sources. (May 2007)|