John Pielmeier began his career as an actor, working at Actors Theatre of Louisville, the Guthrie Theater, Milwaukee Rep, Alaska Rep, Baltimore’s Center Stage and the Eugene O’Neill National Playwrights’ Conference. It was at the O’Neill that his play, Agnes of God, was first staged. A co-winner of the Great American Play contest, the play premiered professionally at Actors Theatre of Louisville, followed by several regional productions and a 17-month run on Broadway and a subsequent film adaptation that earned him a Writers Guild of America Award nomination.
Pielmeier’s other stage works include the Edgar Award-winning play Voices in the Dark, The Boys of Winter and Sleight of Hand, all of which were produced on Broadway; the plays Jass and Madonna and Child; the one-man shows Courage, Willi and The Classics Professor; the anthology works Haunted Lives and Impassioned Embraces; and the musicals Steeplechase The Funny Place, Young Rube and Slow Dance with a Hot Pickup.
For Choices of the Heart, a television movie he wrote about slain American missionaries in El Salvador, Pielmeier received a Christopher Award, the Humanitas Award, a WGA Award nomination and an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from St. Edward’s University. His additional television movie credits include Sins of the Father, which broke viewer records when it was first aired on FX and which was also nominated for the Humanitas Award and a WGA Award; The Happy Face Murders, which broke viewer records when it was first aired on Showtime; The Stranger Within; The Last P.O.W.: The Bobby Garwood Story; The Shell Seekers; Through The Eyes Of A Killer; Reunion, co-written with Ron Bass; Submerged; Original Sins, which he also co-produced; a miniseries adaptation of Dominick Dunne’s An Inconvenient Woman; Dodson’s Journey; Forbidden Territory, National Geographic’s premiere television film on Stanley’s search for Livingstone; We Are Circus, an episode of Showtime’s series on the rescue efforts of Righteous Gentiles during the Holocaust; a new adaptation of Flowers For Algernon; Living With The Dead, a miniseries based on James van Praagh’s life and experiences; the critically acclaimed Hitler: The Rise of Evil, which earned an Emmy nomination for best miniseries, The Capture of the Green River Killer, a miniseries that broke viewership records by when it aired on Lifetime Movie Network; an adaptation of Kim Edwards’ The Memory Keeper’s Daughter, which became the most-watched Lifetime movie in 13 years and earned Emmy nomination for best television movie; and a new adaptation of Sybil.
Pielmeier co-wrote the narration for National Geographic’s IMAX film Mysteries of Egypt. He is currently writing adaptations of two Patricia Cornwell mysteries, At Risk and The Front, for Lifetime, as well as The Pillars of the Earth, an eight-hour miniseries based on Ken Follett’s best-selling novel.
A proud member of the Dramatists Guild and the Writers Guild of America East, and an alumnus of New Dramatists, Pielmeier has been a guest lecturer at Carnegie Mellon University, Pennsylvania State University and the University of Vermont. He has been a writer-in-residence at the MacDowell Colony, Yaddo, Ossabaw Island, The Gathering at Bigfork, and the New Harmony Project, and has received alumni awards from both his alma maters. In 2003, he was inducted into the Blair County, Pennsylvania, Arts Hall of Fame. He served as the keynote speaker for the Harriet Lake Festival of New Plays in Orlando in February 2008. His speech for that event, “Writing What Matters,” was reprinted by The Dramatists Guild magazine.
Pielmeier is married to poet/playwright Irene O’Garden and resides in Garrison, N.Y.