About Leo Adam Biga

Author-journalist-blogger 

Leo Adam Biga

“Celebrating the stories of people, their passions, and their magnificent obsessions”

How did I end up a writer? 

The die was cast when I developed a precocious command of fancy words at a fairly young age. That’s when I also became a moderate reader, mostly of Marvel comic books, World Book Encyclopedia, Sports Illustrated, Life Magazine, and my older brothers’ English Lit books.

Praise from teachers for my fledgling attempts at essays and short fiction encouraged me to try more. A high school journalism teacher recruited me to write for the school paper. I majored in “J” at UNO, writing a bit for The Gateway, but getting most of my practical experience writing promotional copy for the campus film program I ran. Out of college my most valuable training ground came as public relations director at the Joslyn Art Museum.

Despite contributing to dozens of newspapers and magazines, I’ve never worked on staff at one. I’ve always freelanced. In 24 years I’ve had well over a thousand articles published. I am both a generalist and a specialist, as I write about all manner of subjects but also concentrate on a few. Arts, entertainment, culture, social justice, history, and sports stories make up a good portion of my work. I also write on African-American subjects.

Aside from profiles and features, I do some depth and enterprise work as well. I chronicled the rise and fall of the Omaha stockyards. I accompanied a Midwest baseball tour through several states. I reported from the Santa Barbara set of Alexander Payne’s Sideways. I covered the Obama inauguration trip a group of Nebraskans made. I’ve profiled several Holocaust survivors and rescuers.

I interview notables from the worlds of art, film, literature, music, sports.

I have a new book out entitled Alexander Payne: His Journey in Film, A Reporter’s Perspective 1998-2012. It’s a compilation of my stories about the filmmaker over the course of 15 years. Payne has occupied a special place in my work as a reporter. Conducting dozens of interviews with the writer-director, making an extended visit to one of his sets, talking to his collaborators, and charting his artistic development have given me rare access into his creative process. My coverage of the two-time Oscar-winner has also produced a body of work about him unmatched anywhere. With Payne coming off the huge success of The Descendants and his new film Nebraska about to be released, I thought the time right to compile all the articles I have written about him into a book. Interest in him is at an all-time high.

Available now, Alexander Payne: His Journey in Film A Reporter’s Perspective 1998-2012 is the first comprehensive treatment of the artist in any medium. The fact that Nebraska’s best-known contribution to cinema is the subject of a book by a fellow Nebraskan is appropriate given that four of Payne’s six feature films have Nebraska settings and that he feels so deeply about this place.

The book, retailing at $19.95, is published by Concierge Marketing and my own Inside Stories. You can soon preview a portion on this blog site, which will also contain a link to order or purchase the book.

It is my sincere desire that you add the book to your personal library and recommend it to friends, family, associates, et cetera.

My long planned The Making of an Alexander Payne Film book may soon become a reality. My first book, a biography called Open Wide, was published in 2010. A pair of books I contributed to came out in 2012. I am due to start on a new biography before year’s end.

I also write documentaries, including a produced film on the J.L Brandeis & Sons Department Store empire.

I have a niche publishing business called Inside Stories that finds me writing biographies along with family and company histories. I also present Freelance Writing Academy Seminars to small groups. You can find details about these services by clicking the tab for each in the menu at the top of this blog.

My peers at the local, state, and national levels have recognized my work.

The best way to appreciate the breadth and depth of what I write is to spend some time on this blog. Then you’ll see why I brand myself as “telling the stories of people, their passions, and their magnificent obsessions.”

 _ _ _

402-445-4666 • leo32158@cox.net

leoadambiga.wordpress.com

Leo Adam Biga – Author-Journalist-Blogger                                                                                                                                              

Telling stories about people, their passions, and their magnificent obsessions

articles • web content • newsletters • press releases • white papers • biographies • company histories • historical narratives • books • scripts

available on project assignment, commission, contract, or retainer basis

“I’ve long admired Leo’s journalism and prose portraiture for its honesty, thoughtfulness, and accuracy.” Alexander Payne

_ _ _

http://www.linkedin.com/in/leoadambigahttp://www.google.com/profiles/leoadambiga

Writer Leo Adam Biga has won awards from:

Omaha Press Club  • Nebraska Press Association • American Jewish Press Association                                                                                  

“Leo portrays his subjects with both precision and generosity, practicing a literary journalism that is enlightening, honest, and immensely readable. His writing is eloquent and provocative, and quite often moving,” Timothy Schaffert

Stories about people, their passions, and their magnificent obsessions

  

First off, thanks for visiting my blog.

One of the most important things you should know about me is that I am a full-time, professional writer.  Writing is my sole source of income.  It is not a sideline or a hobby or a mid-life experiment with me, it is what I focus my energies on the bulk of the time, day in and day out.  Mine is very much a writer’s life from sun up to sun down. Writing, editing, researching, interviewing, transcribing, corresponding, I am always juggling multiple tasks and projects at a time.

You should also know that I am highly experienced and trained.  I have a degree in journalism, I have worked in different aspects of journalism, communications, public relations.

I brand myself as an award-winning freelance cultural journalist writing about people, their passions, and their magnificent obsessions.

My work is primarily for newspapers, magazines, web sites, and blogs.  I also do some corporate writing from time and time, and I am just venturing into authoring books.

The subject matter I write about is quite diverse, and my blog site certainly reflects that.   My posts consist of articles I have written and had published, past and present.  In a few cases, the articles are new versions of previously published material.   There’s even a few pieces that had never been published before.

With each post I try to give a bit of insight about the project or the subject.   Kind of the back story or context to it. My award-winning work has been recognized by my peers at the local, state, and national levels.

Some testimonials:

“I’ve long admired Leo Biga’s journalism and prose portraiture for its honesty, thoughtfulness, and accuracy.   On a personal note, throughout many years of being interviewed, I find Mr. Biga’s articles about me to be the most complete and perceptive of any journalist’s anywhere. They ring true to me — even in critique — in a way that reveals the depth of his talent in observation, understanding, and expression.” Alexander Payne, filmmaker (Citizen Ruth, Election, About Schmidt, Sideways)

“Leo Adam Biga portrays his subjects with both precision and generosity, practicing a literary journalism that is enlightening, honest, and immensely readable.  His writing is eloquent and provocative, and quite often moving.” Timothy Schaffert, novelist (Phantom Limbs of the Rollow Sisters)

“Leo Adam Biga is an astute, conscientious journalist whose interviews and articles have been widely admired for their accuracy, generosity, depth, and perceptiveness.   I would position him among the finest of our national reporters on the arts and culture.” Ron Hansen, novelist (The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford)

“Leo Biga personifies one of H.L. Mencken‘s more memorable observations: ‘There are no dull subjects.  There are only dull writers.’  Biga consistently teaches and delights, not with showy vocabulary or flashy syntax, but by placing his prodigious talents in the service of his subject and his readers.” Richard Dooling, author (White Man’s Grave and Brain Storm)

I trust that you will find something of interest to read among all the eclectic categories and tags you will find on my site. I invite you to explore and luxuriate over the content.   If you think someone you know might find the site interesting, please refer or link them to it. And by all means please subscribe to the site yourself or bookmark it.   I will be regularly posting new content.

As of August 2012, which marks two years for my blog, 600-plus articles are now posted for your perusing pleasure. Enjoy. And I do welcome your comments…

You can find out more about me and my work on the Hire Me page, where my resume is posted. Find more useful information at my LinkedIn page-

www.linkedin.com/in/leoadambiga

and Facebook page-

http://www.facebook.com/LeoAdamBiga

You can contact me at:

402-445-4666

leo32158@cox.net

  1. Harry Northup
    August 29, 2010 at 7:19 pm

    Dear Leo,

    I look forward to reading your article, “The Fighting Hernandez Brothers.”
    I grew up in Orville, played baseball with Archie & Ferdinand, was friends
    with them & their family for many years. I am an actor/poet. I have made
    a living as an actor for thirty years, acting in 37 films, including “Mean
    Streets,” “Taxi Driver,” “Over the Edge,” “The Silence of the Lambs,” & even
    one boxing film, “The All-American Boy.” After I read your story on the Hernandez boxers, I would like to read tom Lovgren’s “The Fightin’ Hernandez Clan.” Do you know how I could get a copy of it?
    Sincerely,
    Harry Northup

    Like

  2. Lana Thompkins
    September 1, 2010 at 2:48 am

    Are you available for hire to write articles. Admire your work. Thank you and please advise.

    Lana Thompkins

    Like

  3. Jim Harrold
    October 12, 2010 at 4:59 pm

    Hey Leo,

    I enjoyed your pieces on Gary Kastrick. I grew up in Omaha in the Hanscom Park neighborhood, near some of the neighborhoods that Gary has spent his life documenting. I spent 26 years in the military and came back after retirement because frankly, my hometown has a lot to be proud of. However, one thing we should not be proud of is our apparent disregard for our own history. It is appalling that Gary Kastrick’s lovingly-compiled collection of artifacts and oral history has been effectively thrown on the trash heap, not only by the Omaha Public Schools, but by the business and political leaders of Omaha. By coincidence, I had the opportunity to hear a talk by Gary at Omaha’s Durham Western Heritage Museum. He is a guy who makes history come to life. It is incredible to me that his life’s work has been so shamefully dismissed by others.

    Sincerely,

    Jim Harrold

    Like

  4. Coach Al Wile
    October 28, 2010 at 4:20 pm

    I am a coach and an associate professor at the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. What a treat when I came into work this morning and received a hit on your blog from my brother Ron in Austin Texas. My brother Ron and Gary and I used to box for Harley Cooper in the mid sixties out of Omaha. My dad was an Air Force officer and kind of took Harley under his belt and watched out for him, with all his kids. Harley took Ron , Gary and I along with Coach Whitey Lohmeier to the jujnior Golden Gloves at the Red Shields Boys Club in Sioux City Iowa in 1964 and 1965 (I think). This 5 day tournament was a five state tourney and we would start on a Tuesday night, single elimination. The second year we went both my brother Ron and I were in the championship bouts. Ron won and was the Outstanding Boxer and I got beat by Henry Lieb Yellowcloud. I remember staying in a rickety ole hotel in Sioux City, Harley and I in the same bed, and in the middle of the night the fire alarm went off. We had a door in the bedroom with one of these old metal stairs outside but the steps didn’t go all the way to the ground. Harley raised hell (subtlely) and they moved us to another room. None of us have seen Harley since we were transferred overseas but we all remeber him, watched him fight and carry his classy image in our thoughts. I would like to head out out to Omaha and find him and spend some time with him. I continued my work with boxing as a coach here at the Air Force Academy. Our boxing team has won 19 National Collegiate Championships and 8 runner-up trophies since 1980. What a mentor he was and still is. Thanks for bringing back some good ole memories.

    Coach l Wile

    Like

    • October 28, 2010 at 6:30 pm

      Thanks for your note. I have passed it on to Harley. I read your comments over the phone to him and he was quite touched by them. I hope you guys reconnect. Harley and I plan to meet soon to discuss a book he wants me to write about his life story. I look forward to the project.

      Like

  5. Krisitn Peterson Korn
    January 11, 2011 at 5:07 pm

    Wow- I am not certain how I discovered your blog, but it is outstanding specifically the pieces on Preston Love, Bob Gibson, Dick Cavett and Brandeis Department Store. Although I’ve been a resident of New York since 1980, I am forever grateful having been born and raised in Omaha. My father was also born in Omaha in 1919, grew up in the area of 28th & Corby Streets(or Little Stockholm), and graduated from North High just one year prior to Mr. Love. As a sidebar I graduated HS from Westside HS in 1975, and Bob Gibson’s daughter was one of my (many) class mates. I have not visited my home town since early 2002 following my mother’s death but plan to do so in the upcoming year or so to do some historical research in the Douglas County records. My father’s father (an immigrant from Sweden) took a chance and purchased supposedly foreclosed property in the Saddle Creek Country Club section of town in 1934 (at the age of 50) and proceeded to start a green house/floral business which my father became sole owner in 1948 after his father’s sudden death. (My father in turn sold the business and property in 1967 due to significant health problems- hence we moved from that area)but the property is still a thriving independent green house/retail florist.
    Now that I in my 50’s I find the whole idea of my grandfather starting a floral business basically from scratch during the depression fascinating.
    Oh well- thank you once again for such exemplary pieces of writing!

    Like

    • January 11, 2011 at 6:14 pm

      Thanks so much for your comments. Regardless of how you did stumble upon my blog, I am glad you did. And please feel free to turn others onto it. Good luck with your research.

      Like

  6. Chuck Kragel
    May 11, 2011 at 8:14 pm

    I grew up and trained with Art and Ferd Hernandez and only recently read about the book “The Fightin’ Hernandez Clan” by Tom Lovgren. Please tell me how I can obtain a copy of the book.
    Thanks

    Like

  7. Clyde Hostetter
    August 15, 2011 at 6:52 pm

    Hello, Leo–
    FYI I passed along to Pat your story about the Omaha Pulitzer Prize which mentioned her husband’s role. It couldn’t have happened at a better time. Her children from both marriages, eight in all, will be coming here to celebrate her birthday soon.

    After that happy news, here is a long-shot story possibility which I’ve researched for several years, and involves Lisa Minnelli. Remember “The Sterile Cuckoo” book and movie? I happened to be in Hollywood one day on college business, and had to stay overnight. I noticed a little theater in the area which had a basic marquee that said “The Sterile Cuckoo” and “Lisa Minnelli”. I bought a ticket, went in and noticed the audience was quite small. The film was B&W. This was before a substantially different color version debuted a couple of years later!

    Everyone denies knowledge of the B&W version, but I saw it. The keystone is in the U.S. Copyright Office in DC and a catalog that lists all the movies that were copyrighted before the Office shifted to electronics. There is only one catalog and you can go there and check film copyrights. If they do it, they charge $330. The copyright date will tell if Producer Pakula, who wanted to be a director, and Minnelli, who wanted to be a movie star, shot a quickie B&W before Pakula’s two-year option ran out to film Nichol’s book. Nichol knew nothing about this. And there’s much much more, including Lucille Ball’s selling the old RKO lot (across the street from Paramount) where the color version was eventually shot with Pakula directing his first picture and Minnelli starring.

    There’s much more. I’m telling you this much to see if you do Hollywood-type stories. I’m not a good enough writer to tackle this, with no recent track record as a magazine writer.

    What do you think?

    Clyde Hostetter
    chostett@cox.net

    Like

    • August 15, 2011 at 7:21 pm

      Thanks for this Clyde, if I may call you by your first name.

      I am a film buff from childhood. I am always looking for film stories. My blog actually contains 50 or 60 of my film stories, and those represent maybe a third of the number I’ver written over time. I’ve had the privilege of interviewing many film notables:

      Patricia Neal Debbie Reynolds Mickey Rooney Robert Duvall Martin Landau Danny Glover Kevin McCarthy Robert Wise Joan Micklin Silver Ray Harryhausen Peter Riegert Paul Giamatti Laura Dern

      I’ve been closely covering Alexander Payne since 1996. I am to write a book about the making of his next film.

      There’s a multi-layered film story I’ve intended to tell for a few years now involving the then young and unknown Francis Ford Coppola coming to Nebraska to shoot much of his well-regarded art film, The Rain People, in the mid-1960s. The film starred three then young unknowns in Shirley Knight, James Caan, and Robert Duvall. Coppola’s protege at the time, George Lucas, was on hand as well to shoot The Making of the Rain People. During his time in Nebraska Duval met and became enamored with a ranch-rodeo family, the Petersons, and after The Rain People wrapped he returned several times over the next few years to make a documentary, We’re Not the Jet Set, about the family and their lifestyle. By the time Duvall completed the superb but little seen film, his first directorial effort by the way, The Godfather pictures had been made and released and he and Caan and Coppola were Hollywood royalty, along with Lucas, whose THX-1138 and American Graffiti, both produced by Coppola, and original Star Wars had come out. Duvall remained friends with the Petersons for many years and several members of the family ended up in the film industry as horse wranglers, et cetera.

      The story you describe involving Pakula, Minnelli, and The Sterile Cuckoo is fascinating but probably beyond my reach, as it would entail searching for and poring over any primary source materials that exist and trying to get Minnelli and others with knowledge of the situation to go on the record. Unfortunately, Pakula has passed. it sounds like a tall order for someone like myself, who is not in a position to go off on an investigative hunt. Now, if a publisher would provide an advance to cover that kind of thing, then it may be doable. But the real questions would still be: how much information do you presently have as a foundation for such a story? who will talk to help flesh out the story? and who exactly in the magazine publishing world would be interested in such a story? I mean, I would love to read it, and maybe eve write it, but there are probably too many ifs for my tastes.

      Like

  8. flor rosales
    October 5, 2011 at 12:15 am

    hello! my name is Flor Rosales i am an hispanic artist who self taught how to paint with arcrylic paints origanally grom Greeley<Co.. who has been a risedent here in Nebraska for sometime, I work full time at Tyson in madison. i have sold a few paintings over the past nine years i have a unique style very old fashion some what I like to paint different stuff. I have paintings here in Ne,Texas,and Colo. I am unexeperienced when it comes to gallerey display. you can see some of my work on fb.under same email. IF ever given the opportunity i would love to share my work..

    Like

  9. Marc Sorkin
    November 26, 2011 at 6:51 pm

    I stumbled upon this site while researching Central High alumni and have been entranced
    since.
    There may be a lifetime of reading here for a kid who grew up in Omaha in the 50s and 60s.

    Like

    • November 26, 2011 at 7:23 pm

      Thanks for sharing your satisfaction with the content. If you know of anyone else who might enjoy the site, please link them to it.

      Like

  10. Marc Sorkin
    December 14, 2011 at 2:01 am

    I was told to ead the book, “KIa’s Revenge.” By a young Omaha authoress and
    set in Omaha.
    Worth reading and I would like to know more about the author.

    Like

  11. January 29, 2012 at 2:55 pm

    Dear Mr. Biga –

    I’m a 1972 Boys Town Graduate. Graduating in the era you so excellently described in your article. I suppose I’m one of the few who remain in touch with teachers and staff from the place I knew as “home”. Coach Pfeifer recently shared an article with me, authored by you some time ago. I laughingly tell people “I don’t get around much anymore…” and I was surprised to learn th article was written May, 2010.

    I wanted to express my appreciation for such an excellent article which perfectly describes the place and the people where so many grew up. The majority of us didn’t go on to become people of notariaty. Heck,I’ve had three careers in my life since Boys Town, most recenly becoming involved in the world of art! What we HAVE done is to live our lives “after the home”, in a way that emulates everything we absorbed in our youth.

    We, ALL alumni owe such a debt of graditude to Fr. Wegner, Coach Palrang, Mr. Novotny, Coach Pfeifer… To each and every Boys Town employee. Teachers, custodians… We as students learned from each of them. We ARE grteful for the Boys Town athletic legacy (of which we are all extremely proud), but also for the lessons in preparation for life. Tenacity,self-worth, determination.

    You hit it dead on, regarding the stigma attatched to the forehead of past and even present Boys Town students. Still today, I can see the look on peoples faces, when I tell them, “I grew up in Boys Town”. They search for the criminal element! However, should you visit with most any of us from the home, THAT statement, “I’m from Boys Town” is annonced with cherished memories, immeasurable pride and AND apprecition for articles such as yours, which explains why as Boys Town ALumni, we like to say, “WE are the largest family in the world. Brothers and sisters, all!”

    It’s late in coming, but thank you for the article.

    Dennis Buckman

    Like

  12. Roger duRand
    December 21, 2012 at 6:32 am

    Leo–
    Nice article in new Encounter. Thanks!
    (One inaccuracy: The Farthest Outpost was at 1106 Howard, not ‘1106 Jackson’)
    RdR

    Like

  13. Ronald Larsen
    February 11, 2013 at 7:48 pm

    I knew Amilia Biga. Had a little sundries store 38th and L. any relation?

    Like

  14. Susan Smith
    March 19, 2013 at 8:49 pm

    Leo, Enjoyed both of your recent books, “Open Wide” and the Alexander Payne book. Where can I get your book about Omaha Grocery stores of the past? Looked on your blog but couldn’t find anything about it,

    Like

    • March 24, 2013 at 3:59 am

      Thanks, glad enjoyed those books. The other book you refer to is Memories of the Jewish Midwest, Mom and Pop Grocery Stores and there are some excerpts from it on my blog. You can order the book through the Nebraska Jewish Historical Society.

      Like

  15. Cord Coslor
    September 24, 2013 at 12:24 am

    Do you have any idea how I could contact Peaches James?

    Like

  16. October 9, 2013 at 8:07 pm

    Nice to see Coach Maurice “Skip” Palrang mentioned in Mr. Buckman’s reply. He is an Uncle I never had the pleasure of knowing, but have heard only good things about his involvement at Boys Town. It was by chance that I stumbled upon your blog when following my family name, so I now look forward to reading your books. Is anything ever really quite by chance?

    All the best to you!
    Ann Palrang

    Like

  1. December 6, 2013 at 10:54 am

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