Joseph Michael Straczynski (born July 17, 1954), known professionally as J. Michael Straczynski and informally as Joe Straczynski or jms, is an award-winning American writer/producer. He works in a variety of media, including television series, novels, short stories, comic books, and radio dramas. He is also a playwright, journalist and author of The Complete Book of Scriptwriting, a well-regarded tome on the subject. He was the creator, executive producer, head writer and show runner for the science fiction TV series Babylon 5, its spin-off Crusade, and Jeremiah. Straczynski wrote 92 out of the 110 Babylon 5 episodes, notably including an unbroken 59-episode run through all of the third and fourth seasons, and all but one episode of the fifth season. He also wrote the four Babylon 5 TV movies produced alongside the series.
In the last two years, Straczynski has transitioned to an A-List movie writer, working with such stars and directors as Clint Eastwood, Ron Howard, the Wachowski Brothers, Angelina Jolie, Tom Hanks, John Malkovich, Joel Silver, Wolfgang Peterson, Paul Greengrass and Brad Pitt.
Straczynski has also been a long-time participant in Usenet and other early computer networks, interacting with fans through various online forums (including GEnie, CompuServe, and America Online) since 1984. He is often credited as being the first TV producer ("showrunner" in Hollywood parlance) to directly engage with fans on the Internet, and have their comments affect the look and feel of his shows (see Babylon 5's use of the Internet). Two of the more prominent areas where he had a presence were GEnie and the newsgroup rec.arts.sf.tv.babylon5.moderated. Some of these fans call him The Great Maker (based on a Centauri deity).
Straczynski is a graduate of San Diego State University (SDSU), having earned Bachelor's degrees in psychology and sociology (with minors in philosophy and literature). While at SDSU, he wrote prolifically for the student newspaper, The Daily Aztec, at times penning so many articles that the paper was jokingly referred to as the "Daily Joe." Straczynski currently resides in the Los Angeles area.
According to the jacket bio for the first edition of his scriptwriting text (see Print below), Straczynski had a play produced when he was 17, a sitcom produced when he was 21, and sold his first movie script when he was 24. By the age of 28, he had credits that included television and film scripts, radio scripts for Alien Worlds and the Mutual Broadcasting System, a dozen plays, and more than 150 newspaper and magazine articles. He had also been teaching his craft for several years at various lectures and seminars in California and elsewhere.
A partial chronological list of Straczynski's other television credits:
Additionally, Straczynski was involved in Spiral Zone, from which he removed his name and used the pseudonym Fettes Grey (derived from the names of the grave robbers in The Body Snatcher). He also wrote an episode of CBS Storybreak (an adaptation of Evelyn Sibley Lampman's The Shy Stegosaurus of Cricket Creek).
In 2004, Straczynski was approached by Paramount Studios to become a producer of the Star Trek: Enterprise series. He declined, believing that he would not be allowed to take the show in the direction he felt it should go. He did write a treatment for a new Star Trek series with colleague Bryce Zabel.
In 2005, Straczynski began the process of publishing his Babylon 5 scripts.. This process ended in June 2008, with the scripts no longer being available from the end of July of that year. His scripts for the television movies are expected to be published for a limited time late in 2008.
He has also written considerably for radio drama, including the series The City of Dreams for scifi.com and an original 20-part radio drama series entitled The Adventures of Apocalypse Al for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation that was to debut in 2007.
On June 27, 2006, Variety reported that Universal Pictures and Imagine Entertainment have purchased the rights to Straczynski's thriller Changeling, with Ron Howard originally slated to helm the picture. However, Howard dropped out of the directing-chores due to scheduling conflicts. On March 8, 2007, Variety reported that Clint Eastwood will direct the film, with Angelina Jolie slated to star.
In 2008, "Changeling" was selected as one of 20 films to be placed in competition at the Cannes Film Festival.
Straczynski announced on February 23, 2007 that he has been hired to write the feature film adaptation of Max Brooks's New York Times-bestselling novel World War Z for Paramount Pictures and Brad Pitt's production company, Plan B.
In June 2007, it was announced that he had written a feature screenplay for the Silver Surfer movie for Fox, the production of which would depend on the success of the Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer. Additionally, he has written a script for Tom Hanks' Playtone Productions and Universal Pictures called They Marched into Sunlight based upon the Pulitzer nominated novel of the same name and an outline by Paul Greengrass, for Greengrass to direct, should it get a greenlight.
In June 2008, Daily Variety named Straczynski one of the top Ten Screenwriters to Watch. They also announced that Straczynski was writing Lensman for Ron Howard (to whom he had also sold an original screenplay entitled The Flickering Light), that he was selling another spec, Proving Ground, to Tom Cruise and United Artists and wrote a draft of Ninja Assassin for Joel Silver (which he completed in just 53 hours).
Straczynski has also been a journalist, reviewer, and investigative reporter, publishing over 500 articles in such publications as the Los Angeles Times, the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner, Writer's Digest, Penthouse, San Diego Magazine, Twilight Zone Magazine, the San Diego Reader, the Los Angeles Reader and Time.
Straczynski wrote The Complete Book of Scriptwriting (ISBN 1-85286-882-1), often used as a text in introductory screenwriting courses, and now in its third edition.
In 1999 he started writing Rising Stars for Top Cow / Image Comics. Eventually he worked mostly under his own imprint, Joe's Comics, for which he also wrote the Midnight Nation miniseries, and the illustrated fantasy parable Delicate Creatures. Marvel Comics then signed him to an exclusive contract, beginning with a run on The Amazing Spider-Man, from 2001-2007. He has since written for many major Marvel titles, including Fantastic Four.
Straczynski's work for Marvel includes:
His awards include two Hugo Awards, the Ray Bradbury Award from the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, a Saturn Award, the E Pluribus Unum Award from the American Cinema Foundation, the Eisner Award, the Inkpot Award, and three technical Emmy Awards (for Babylon 5). He has also received an Eagle Award, and two awards from the Space Frontier Foundation.