> B I O
Jess Jacket Photo - 3

With credits ranging from portraying Hamlet on the London stage to writing self-help books and Saturday morning cartoons, Jess has lived an eclectic creative life.

A Southern California native, Jess was raised in the bohemian artists' enclave of Lake Sherwood before it was transformed into a top ten golf course. His mother, a freelance writer, and his father, a writer and producer for the Walt Disney Studios, instilled early on a love of language, wordplay, and talking animals.


Senior Yearbook
Wisely giving up sports for drama, speech, and journalism at Newbury Park High School, he continued his education at the University of California, Santa Cruz and the University of California, Berkeley. Although he majored in English and specialized in Shakespeare, Jess mostly hung out in the dark, subterranean hallways of experimental theater, studying improvisation with Shireen Strooker of Amsterdam's Het Werkteater.

In 1981, he joined forces with high school chum Adam Long and writer/director Daniel Singer to form The Reduced Shakespeare Company.

Early Hamlet
After six years of busking at Renaissance Faires and tourist haunts with their freewheeling, half-hour versions of Hamlet and Romeo and Juliet, their full-length show The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged) premiered at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 1987 and became an international sensation, leading to multiple world tours and lengthy engagements in Los Angeles, New York, London, Montreal, Dublin, and Edinburgh. In 1991, the show opened in the West End to rave reviews. Jess retired from the RSC in 1992, but The Complete Works continued with various casts, finally closing at Piccadilly's Criterion Theatre in 2005 as the longest-running comedy in the West End.

Jess as Bard
Although the 1990s found Jess adapting and editing the trade paperback version of The Complete Works (now in its fourth printing) and directing critically-acclaimed productions of the show both Off-Broadway and at San Diego's Old Globe Theater, he largely turned his attention from Shakespeare to animation. Following in his father's footsteps, he embarked on a second career as a writer and producer for the Walt Disney Company that culminated in two Daytime Emmy awards for Disney's Teacher's Pet (starring Nathan Lane and Jerry Stiller) and the hugely successful Lilo and Stitch spinoffs Stitch! The Movie; Lilo and Stitch: The Series; and Leroy and Stitch.

After dipping his toes back in Shakespearean waters with the lighthearted self-help book What Would Shakespeare Do? in 2000, Jess left Disney in 2005 to begin work on his first novel, My Name Is Will — A Tale of Sex, Drugs, and Shakespeare, which blends a historically plausible story of William Shakespeare's young adulthood with a contemporary romp loosely based on experiences from Jess's years in Santa Cruz and Berkeley.

Emmy Winner
Jess lives in Hollywood with his wife Sa, an accomplished ceramicist.

In his spare time, he blogs about Los Angeles's dynamic ethnic food scene (lafoodcrazy.blogspot.com) and supports the L.A. Philharmonic, the Hollywood Bowl, the Los Angeles Kings, and the distillers of Ketel One vodka, as well as many progressive causes and charities.







BOOKS


My Name Is Will: A Novel of Sex, Drugs, and Shakespeare (Twelve, New York, 2008)
What Would Shakespeare Do? Personal Advice from the Bard
(Ulysses Press, Berkeley, 2000)

The Reduced Shakespeare Company presents The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged) (Applause Books, New York, 1993). Co-author (as "Jess Borgeson") and Editor (as “Professor J. M. Winfield”).

ARTICLES

The Bard As Pundit
Los Angeles Sunday Times
3/16/2008
op-ed

Mad Mel of Elsinore

Vogue Magazine, UK
Film review of Mel Gibson's Hamlet.

Jam Joy Yes - James Joyce's Ulysses (abridged)
New York Newsday
Satirical reduction of Joyce's classic, available here for your reading pleasure.

FEATURE FILMS

Leroy & Stitch
Walt Disney Television Animation Executive Producer/Writer/Dialogue Director

Stitch! The Movie
Walt Disney Television Animation Executive Producer/Writer

FEATURE FILMS - DEVELOPMENT

The Incredible Almost-true Life Story of Young William Shakespeare and a Muse Named Bob
Walt Disney Feature Animation

TELEVISION - SERIES

Lilo & Stitch‚ The Series
Walt Disney Television Animation
Executive Producer

Teacher's Pet
Walt Disney Television Animation
Co-Executive Producer

The Legend of Tarzan
Walt Disney Television Animation
Story Editor

Mickey MouseWorks
Walt Disney Television Animation
Staff Writer

Buzz Lightyear of Star Command
Walt Disney Television Animation
Staff Story Editor

Hercules, the Animated Series
Walt Disney Television Animation
Story Editor

101 Dalmatians - The Animated Series
Walt Disney Television Animation/Jumbo Pictures
Story Editor

Casper
Universal Cartoons
Writer

The Incredible Hulk
Marvel Entertainment
Writer

Beast Wars
Alliance Entertainment
Writer

Action Man
DIC
Writer

As You're Gonna Love It
BBC TV, UK
Writer/Performer.

The Late Show
(ITN, Ireland).
Writer/Performer.

Other material has appeared on:

Entertainment Tonight (NBC TV, US)
Literati (PBS TV, US)
Packet of Three (Channel 4, UK)
01 for London (Channel 4, UK)
Up the Junction (ITV, UK)
Just For Laughs (HBO, US)
Parallel Nine (BBC TV, UK)
Wogan (BBC TV, UK)

TELEVISION - DEVELOPMENT

Lilo and Stitch - the Series
(Disney Television Animation)

Gang of Three
(Disney Television Animation)

Penny Dreadful
(Disney Television Animation)

Mars Patrol
(Disney Television Animation)

Li'l Bad Wolf
(Disney Television Animation)

Sideshow

(Disney Television Animation)

STAGE

The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged)
Co-author and original cast member of the worldwide smash hit condensation of all 37 of Shakespeare's works into a two-hour romp. The Complete Works has been translated into a dozen languages. The London production recently after a nine-year run... the longest running comedy in the West End. Jess has directed critically-acclaimed productions of the show Off-Broadway, at the Old Globe Theatre in San Diego, and at Teatreneu in Barcelona, Spain, and co-directed (with Daniel Singer) the 2007 Arts Theater West End revival.

AWARDS

Daytime Emmy Award, 2000 and 2001
Daytime Emmy Award nominee 1999
Laurence Olivier award nominee 1997
Prism Award commendation, 1995
Louis B. Leavy scholar, 1983
Bank of America award for drama, 1979.

EDUCATION

Bachelor's Degree in English, University of California, Berkeley 1983.