skip navigation
Bryce Zabel

Bryce Zabel

| VIEW ALL

TCM Messageboards
Post your comments here
ADD YOUR COMMENT>

share:

TCM Archive Materials VIEW ALL ARCHIVES (0)

Also Known As: Died:
Born: Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Profession: writer, producer, correspondent

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Once a correspondent for CNN and a news anchor for local television stations, writer-producer Bryce Zabel made the jump from journalism to Hollywood for the most basic of reasons: he needed a job. That simple need transformed his life and steered him down a path toward series television, feature films and the chairmanship of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. Without the switch, Zabel may well have bounced from anchor chair to anchor chair in places like Buffalo or Indianapolis. Instead, he decided to write spec scripts for pilot television-a decision that spawned a long-running Hollywood career. Zabel was born in Newport, Oregon, and attended high school in Hillsboro. He later went to the University of Oregon in Eugene, where he earned his B.A. in Broadcast Journalism. From there, he became a news reporter for KVAL-13 and KEZI-9, both in Eugene, then moved to Los Angeles in 1980 to become a correspondent for CNN. A staff turnover forced Zabel out of his job in 1981, but he landed a gig as an investigative reporter on a "60 Minutes"-style show on PBS. That show was canceled and Zabel was again without work. But instead of looking for that next reporting gig, he was asked by his...

Once a correspondent for CNN and a news anchor for local television stations, writer-producer Bryce Zabel made the jump from journalism to Hollywood for the most basic of reasons: he needed a job. That simple need transformed his life and steered him down a path toward series television, feature films and the chairmanship of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. Without the switch, Zabel may well have bounced from anchor chair to anchor chair in places like Buffalo or Indianapolis. Instead, he decided to write spec scripts for pilot television-a decision that spawned a long-running Hollywood career.

Zabel was born in Newport, Oregon, and attended high school in Hillsboro. He later went to the University of Oregon in Eugene, where he earned his B.A. in Broadcast Journalism. From there, he became a news reporter for KVAL-13 and KEZI-9, both in Eugene, then moved to Los Angeles in 1980 to become a correspondent for CNN. A staff turnover forced Zabel out of his job in 1981, but he landed a gig as an investigative reporter on a "60 Minutes"-style show on PBS. That show was canceled and Zabel was again without work. But instead of looking for that next reporting gig, he was asked by his soon-to-be wife, Jackie, if he had ever written a screenplay. Not knowing what a script looked like, he got one, read it and was immediately convinced he could write his own. He quickly churned out pilots for "E.N.G" (CTV-Lifetime, 1990-1994), a one-hour drama about the urgency and complexity faced by a team gathering daily news, and "Kay O'Brien" (CBS, 1986), a short-lived medical drama about an 28 year-old surgical resident (Patricia Kalember) who tries to excel in the male-dominated world.

Zabel went on to write and produce for several established television shows: he worked for "Life G s On" (ABC, 1989-1993), "Equal Justice" (ABC, 1989-1991) and "Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman" (ABC, 1993-1997). He then developed the short-lived sci-fi adventure "M.A.N.T.I.S." (1994-1995) for Fox. Though inventive and original, "M.A.N.T.I.S." failed to capture an audience and was axed by the network after 22 episodes. Zabel's fascination with conspiracy theories-particularly JFK and UFOs-led him to create "Dark Skies" (NBC, 1996-1997), a sci-fi thriller about a young couple (Eric Close & Megan Ward) on the run from aliens and government operatives seeking to keep a lid on alternative explanations to historical events. Despite an interesting concept and extraterrestrial elements, "Dark Skies" went off the air in May 1997.

Meanwhile, Zabel shifted gears again and penned his first feature script, "Mortal Kombat: The Annihilation" (1997). Though not deserving of any awards, the martial arts sequel based on the popular video game did open number one at the box office and went on to earn decent box office and rental totals both at home and abroad. In a return to television, Zabel developed "The Crow: Stairway to Heaven" (SciFi, 1998-1999), another in a succession of shows that failed to sustain long life on television. He then shared story and screenplay credit with his wife and a host of other writers on the animated Disney adventure, "Atlantis: The Lost Empire" (2001), a wooden effort from the family-oriented studio that seemed geared more for grown-ups than children.

Later in 2001, just a month prior to the terrorist attacks on September 11th, Zabel was elected Chairman/CEO of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (ATAS)-the first writer-producer to take the position since his childhood idol Rod Sterling. Taking over for outgoing chairman, Jim Chabin, whose contract was not renewed, Zabel served as a volunteer in a tumultuous time for the Academy and the country. In light of 9/11, Zabel decided to cancel the 53rd Annual Primetime Emmy Awards-originally slotted for September 16th-and rescheduled the ceremony for October 7th. The military strikes in Afghanistan, however, forced him to reschedule a second time and the awards finally aired on November 4th. Through it all, Zabel enjoyed positive press and widespread industry support.

After life settled back into something resembling normality, Zabel carried on his duties at ATAS without a hitch. He left in 2003 after one two-year term to continue writing. He wrote the four-part miniseries "The Poseidon Adventure" (NBC, 2006), a remake of the famed disaster film from 1972 starring Gene Hackman, Ernest Borgnine and Shelley Winters. Meanwhile, Zabel began writing "Fall From Grace," the true story of Neil Goldschmidt, Portland's youngest mayor and Oregon's fast-rising political star whose illicit relationship with a 14 year-old girl early in his career comes back to haunt him.

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

:
Reported news for KVAL-13 and KEZI-9 in Eugene, OR
1980:
Moved to Los Angeles, CA to work as a correspondent for CNN
1986:
Wrote and produced the short-lived medical drama "Kay O┬┐Brien" (CBS)
1989:
Wrote first spec pilot for the drama "E.N.G." (CTV-Lifetime)
1989:
Began writting and producing for the series "Life Goes On" (ABC)
1990:
Wrote several episodes for the popular legal drama "L.A. Law" (NBC)
1993:
Wrote for "Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman" (ABC)
1994:
Developed the short-lived sci-fi adventure "M.A.N.T.I.S." (Fox)
1996:
Created sci-fi thriller "Dark Skies" (NBC)
1997:
Penned first feature film "Mortal Kombat: The Annihilation"
2001:
Co-wrote the animated Disney adventure "Atlantis: The Lost Empire"
2001:
Elected Chairman/CEO of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (ATAS)
2005:
Wrote four-part miniseries "The Poseidon Adventure" (NBC), a remake of the 1972 famed disaster film
2007:
Won the WGA Award (TV) in Long Form Original category for the Hallmark Channel movie "Pandemic"
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

University of Oregon: Eugene , Oregon -

Please support TCMDB by adding to this information.

Click here to contribute