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j. michael landy

J. Michael Straczynski

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.

Early years

Straczynski (pronounced Strah-Chin-skee) hails initially from Paterson, New Jersey, but has also lived in Newark, New Jersey; Kankakee, Illinois; Dallas, Texas; Chula Vista, California, where he graduated from high school; and San Diego, California. Straczynski's family was Catholic, of Eastern European descent. He refers to his background as Polish and Belarusian. His Polish grandparents fled to America from the Russian revolution; his father was born in the US, but lived in Poland and Germany. The family's name may originally have been Strączyński with Polish diacritic signs (a common Polish, Roman Catholic surname).

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.

He also spent five years co-hosting the Hour 25 radio talk show on KPFK-FM Los Angeles with Larry DiTillio.

Television and radio

Straczynski started in television in 1983, working on various animated shows and then in live action, quickly working his way from staff writer to executive producer, culminating in his most famous television work, Babylon 5, which won two Emmy Awards, back-to-back Hugo Awards, and dozens of other awards. He wrote 91 out of Babylon 5's 110 episodes, as well as the pilot and five television movies. The character-driven space opera is also notable for its five year story arc, emphasis on realism, and its pioneering, extensive use of CGI for its special effects. Straczynski was also creator and executive producer of B5's thirteen-episode sequel series, Crusade, for which he wrote 10 of the 13 episodes.

Jeremiah, Straczynski created and executive produced, loosely based on the Belgian post-apocalyptic comic of the same name, writing 19 of the 35 episodes.

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.

Film

Straczynski has also worked on feature film and television movies. In addition to six (as of 2008) Babylon 5 films, he wrote the award-winning adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson's The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde for the Showtime network and a Murder, She Wrote movie, Murder, She Wrote: A Story to Die For, which he also produced.

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.

Joe Straczynski was also hired to write a feature film based on the story of King David for Universal in 2006 by producers Erwin Stoff and Akiva Goldsman.

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).

Print

Novels, short stories and nonfiction

Straczynski is the author of three horror novels — Demon Night, Othersyde, and Tribulations — and nearly twenty short stories, many of which are collected in two compilations — Tales from the New Twilight Zone and Straczynski Unplugged. He wrote the outlines for nine of the canonical Babylon 5 novels, personally supervised the three produced B5 telefilm novelizations (In the Beginning, Thirdspace, and A Call to Arms), and is the author of four Babylon 5 short stories published in magazines, and not yet reprinted.

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.

Comic books

Straczynski has long been a comic fan, and began writing comics in the 1980s. His early work in comics includes:

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 exclusive contract with Marvel has ended and he will begin a run on The Brave and the Bold for DC.

Graphic novels and collections

Supreme Power trade paperbacks

The Amazing Spider-Man trade paperbacks

  • Volume 1: Coming Home (#30-35)
  • Volume 2: Revelations (#36-39)
  • Volume 3: Until The Stars Turn Cold (#40-45)
  • Volume 4: The Life & Death of Spiders (#46-50)
  • Volume 5: Unintended Consequences (#51-56)
  • Volume 6: Happy Birthday (#57-58, #500-502)
  • Volume 7: The Book of Ezekiel (#503-508)
  • Volume 8: Sins Past (#509-514)
  • Volume 9: Skin Deep (#515-518)
  • Volume 10: New Avengers (#519-524)
  • Spider-Man: The Other (#525-528 plus others)
  • Civil War: The Road To Civil War (#529-531 plus others)
  • Civil War: Amazing Spider-Man (#532-538)
  • Back in Black: Amazing Spider-Man (#539-543)
  • One More Day: Amazing Spider-Man (#544-545 plus others)

Fantastic Four trade paperbacks

  • Volume 1: (#527-532)
  • Volume 2: The Life Fantastic (#533-535, Wedding Special, My Dinner With Doom and Death in the Family)
  • Civil War: The Road To Civil War (#536-537 plus others)
  • Civil War: Fantastic Four (#538-542)

Rising Stars trade paperbacks

  • Volume 0: Visitations (#0, ½, Preview)
  • Volume 1: Born in Fire (#1-8)
  • Volume 2: Power (#9-16)
  • Volume 3: Fire and Ash (#17-24)
  • Volume 4: Bright and Voices of the Dead
  • Volume 5: Untouchable (Includes Visitations)

Thor trade paperbacks

  • Volume 1: Thor (#1-6)

Other

Plays

  • Snow White: an assembly length children's play dramatized by J. Michael Straczynski. c1979.

Awards and recognition

He has received a good deal of recognition for his work, including a nomination for the Comics' Buyer's Guide Award for Favorite Writer in 2000.

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.

An asteroid, discovered in 1992 at the Kitt Peak National Observatory, was honorarily named 8379 Straczynski.

Notes

References

External links

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