Published in Los Angeles Magazine
Steve Gabriel works as the script coordinator on $#*! My Dad Says, the new CBS sitcom starring William Shatner. The show is based on the Twitter feed of a guy who is 29. Gabriel is in his forties—he’d prefer not to reveal his exact age.
Gabriel wants to be a TV staff writer—and at times, he’s been one. Soon after graduating from college, he got a job as a writers’ assistant on Carol Burnett’s 1990 variety show, Carol & Company. He worked with the writers of the Home Improvement pilot and went on to write a script for the series that was produced during its second season. The Home Improvement creators promoted him to staff writer on their next show, Thunder Alley, starring Ed Asner and Haley Joel Osment. His next job was another promotion: story editor on the Dave Chappelle sitcom, Buddies. But the show was canceled in 1996 during its first season.
“That’s kind of when the rails came off the tracks,” says Gabriel, whose graying, close-cropped hair makes him look more like a colonel in the Air Force than a proofreader of other people’s jokes. “I didn’t get a job after that and had to start over.”
This is the reason that Gabriel, at forty-something, is an assistant to writers instead of a writer himself. To pay the bills he became a script coordinator, first for the short-lived 1998 Fox sitcom Costello, then the following year for ABC’s Norm MacDonald vehicle, Norm, and later for Will & Grace. Toward the end of that hit’s eight-season run, he was promoted to staff writer. But then it, too, was off the air, and he went back to script coordinating on the 2008 NBC comedy Kath & Kim (canceled) and this year’s 100 Questions (canceled).