James Dalessandro

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James Dalessandro (born 1948) is an American writer and filmmaker. He is best known for his historical-fiction novel 1906 based on events surrounding the great San Francisco earthquake and fire of 1906.[1]

A film adaptation of 1906, based on both the novel and Dalessandro's screenplay, has been in development at Warner Bros. and Pixar Animation Studios, in association with Walt Disney Pictures.[2] Screenwriter and director Brad Bird has been developing a project based on the novel.[3]

Early life and education[edit]

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, Dalessandro 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.[4] As the nation's largest annual literary festival at the time, 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, CA, which set attendance records (over 2,000 people per night) at the Civic Auditorium. It ushered in what Ferlinghetti called "A new era of American Poetry."[5]

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 Association of Broadcasters. 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, CA.

Dalessandro has published four books: Canary In A Coal Mine (poetry),[6] Bohemian Heart, a work of detective fiction published in 1993,[7] Citizen Jane (true crime),[8] and 1906 (historical fiction).[1]

In September 2009, Hallmark Channel broadcast the movie Citizen Jane, the story of Jane Alexander, a Marin County, California woman who had spent 13 years tracking down and helping to convict the man who murdered her 88-year-old aunt. Dalessandro wrote the teleplay and served as one of the movie's producers. He also wrote 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 took a definitive look at the great San Francisco earthquake and fire.[9] Robert Ericksson of the History Channel called the documentary "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. As of 2014, he was the writer and Executive Producer of an FX Channel, 10-Hour limited series based on the life of Det. Joseph Petrosino with his writing/producing partner, Bobby Moresco, Oscar winner for Crash and Million Dollar Baby.

In 2016, he wrote the pilot and bible for a series entitled "Stan Lee's - The Chosen" and serves as its Executive Producer. In the same year, he was hired by Los Angeles/Beijing Studios (LABS) as screenwriter and Executive Producer of a 6-Hour mini-series on the life of martial arts icon Bruce Lee.

Dalessandro has lectured at the Cinequest Film Festival and the Screenwriting Expo[10] in Los Angeles, CA. He formerly taught "Screenwriting as a Pro" at Fort Mason Art Center in San Francisco, CA.

Dalessandro currently teaches screenwriting at Academy of Art University[11] in San Francisco, CA.

Personal life[edit]

James Dalessandro is married to the former Kathleen "Katie" Callies (since 1988) and has an adopted son, Jeremy Christopher Katevas.


  1. ^ a b Dalessandro, James (2005). 1906: A Novel. San Francisco, California: Chronicle Books. ISBN 9780811849418.
  2. ^ Bastoli, David Michael. "'1906' to be Disney/Pixar/Warner Bros. collaboration". Big Screen Animation. Archived from the original on 8 December 2012. Retrieved 8 March 2014.
  3. ^ Fleming Jr., Mike. "Brad Bird To Helm Damon Lindelof's Secrecy-Shrouded Script '1952′ For Disney". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 8 March 2014.
  4. ^ "Truly CA: James Dalessandro". KQED.org. Retrieved 8 March 2014.
  5. ^ Karp, Evan. "Poetry Festival Santa Cruz: Big event coming back". SFGate.com. Retrieved 8 March 2014.
  6. ^ Dalessandro, James (1974). Canary In A Coal Mine. Santa Cruz, California: Sanguine Books.
  7. ^ Dalessandro, James (1993). Bohemian Heart. New York, New York: St. Martin's Press. ISBN 9780312097561.
  8. ^ Dalessandro, James (2009). Citizen Jane: The True Story of One Woman's Heroic Struggle to Catch a Killer. Indiana: Wordclay. ISBN 9781600375965.
  9. ^ "The Damnedest, Finest Ruins". KQED.org. Retrieved 9 March 2014.
  10. ^ "Screenwriting Expo". Inside Information Group Ltd and Creative Screenwriting. Retrieved 9 March 2014.
  11. ^ "Academy of Art University Catalog Addendum 2: Faculty" (PDF). Academy of Art University. 1 November 2016. Retrieved 2 November 2016.