CNN correspondent-turned-screenwriter Bryce Zabel has been the creator and show runner of prime time series, written produced feature films, run the TV Academy, taught at USC, won the WGA award, authored a book and introduced on-air such celebrities as Walter Cronkite and Tom Hanks.
Every pilot ever written by Zabel that has been produced has also gone on to series. He has received the Writers Guild on-screen “created by” or “developed by” credit on five TV drama series including: NBC’s Emmy-winning (main titles) science fiction seriesDark Skies (1996), FOX’s African-American superhero show M.A.N.T.I.S. (1994); the syndicated comic/film adaptation The Crow: Stairway to Heaven (1998), CTV’s newsroom drama E.N.G. (1989) and CBS’s medical franchise Kay O’Brien (1986). His other series work includes L.A. Law (1986); Life Goes On (1989) and Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman (1993). Three of his series have been major DVD box set releases.
In 2008, Zabel received the Writers Guild of America (WGA) award for writing his third four-hour Hallmark mini-series, _Pandemic (2007)(mini)_, the story of a killer influenza which forces the quarantine of Los Angeles. HIs other mini-series work includes the Hallmark pirate adventure _”Blackbeard” (2006) (mini)_, and NBC’s The Poseidon Adventure (2005).
From 2001 to 2003, Zabel served as Chairman/CEO of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, the first writer/producer elected to this position since his boyhood idol,Rod Serling. He presided over the most tumultuous and transformational time in Academy history, taking office at a time when 9/11 forced the cancellation of the prime time Emmys not once, but twice. He also led the negotiations which resulted in a 250% increase in the Emmy telecast license fee. Previously, he served on the Writers Guild Board of Directors.
In the world of features and long-form, he has received writing credit on two produced films, Mortal Kombat: Annihilation (1997) (which opened as #1 at the box office) and the Disney animated film, Atlantis: The Lost Empire (2001). His spec script Official Denial (1993) became the first original movie produced by the SyFy Channel. He also launched the “Unsolved Mysteries” movie franchise with an NBC film, Victim of Love: The Shannon Mohr Story (1993).
Prolific as a writer on his own, Zabel has also worked in collaboration with other writers over the years, including Marvel Comics legend Stan Lee, multi-award winning TV writer/producer David E. Kelley, Babylon 5 (1994) creator J. Michael Straczynski, his own wife Jackie Zabel and feature writer Brent V. Friedman.
He became a book author in 2010 with the publication of A.D. After Disclosure: The People’s Guide to Life After Contact, written in collaboration with UFO historian Richard M. Dolan.
Twice nominated by the WGA for outstanding screen-writing, Zabel’s work has also been nominated by the Mystery Writers of America, Environmental Media Association and LA Area Emmy Awards. His nominated work includes the fan-favorite L.A. Law(1986) where Jimmy Smits‘ character defends baby-killers who get away with murder and the Dark Skies (1996) pilot about the Kennedy assassination which launched the NBC Saturday night programming concept.
Zabel began his career as a television news reporter in both Oregon and Arizona. He came to Los Angeles as an on-air correspondent for CNN where he covered presidential campaigns and space shuttle landings, among other stories. He met his wife in the office of the LA mayor during a news conference. As an on-air PBS reporter, he won several awards of his own for investigative journalism. He was one of the original group of producer/directors on ABC’s cutting edge reality magazine series, “Eye on LA”.
Zabel started his screen-writing career by combining that passion for journalism and television into his first script, E.N.G. (1989) and it changed his life. The spec pilot about “electronic news gathering” (TV news) launched 108 episodes of the hour drama for the CTV network, led to an overall development deal as a writer/producer for Orion TV.
Zabel is an accomplished public speaker, appearing on each of the three Emmy shows in which he served as the TV Academy leader. He has also been a guest on The Today Show, Good Morning America (1975), Politically Incorrect (1993), Entertainment Tonight(1981), Access Hollywood (1996), etc. and been quoted in Time, USA Today, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times and The Washington Post. As an essayist, he has written for Daily Variety, Television Week, The Los Angeles Times, the WGA’s Written By and Emmy Magazine.
Aside from his Emmy activities, in the world of “live” production, he recently produced a three-hour comedy/musical stage show hosted by Fred Willard before 1100 dinner guests to launch the University of Oregon’s $600-million fund-raising campaign.
He also served as an adjunct professor at the USC School of Cinematic Arts, teaching a graduate level producing class, “Produce or Perish.” He is a member of the DGA, WGA, AFTRA and ATAS.
Zabel attended high school in Hillsboro, Oregon and college at the University of Oregon in Eugene where he graduated with a BA degree in Broadcast Journalism.