Gabriel Gornell is a successful film and TV producer who specializes in music content. He’s been in the industry for over 30 years, working on projects including Lollapalooza and collaborating with everyone from The Rolling Stones to Carrie Fisher and even Oscar the Grouch. Here he talks about getting his big break with a film he made with his friends, executive-producing The Daytime Emmys, and how Carrie Fisher was always the coolest person in the room.
Tell us about how you started in the film industry.
Film and TV started for me in the late 1980s while I was in 10th or 11th grade. I saved my money for a big VHS camcorder and immediately started making movies. These were indie films before the expression existed! This continued for years; I worked hard until my lucky project – a film that I made with my friends – somehow won Best Short Film at Sundance in 1997. It legitimized my love for film and gave me the confidence to take it further.
Who are you are especially proud of working with and why?
I’ve been lucky in this respect, collaborating with artists ranging from Oscar The Grouch to The Rolling Stones. But perhaps my proudest moment was my brief collaboration with Carrie Fisher when I was Executive Producer of the Daytime Emmys, during my time with the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences.
Carrie graciously agreed to present an Emmy award in an animation category for which George Lucas was nominated for ‘The Clone Wars’ series. Carrie was smart, hilarious, and just cooler than most people. She managed to loop Ozzy Osbourne into her speech… who was in the front row with Sharon – who had also been nominated for an Emmy for ‘The Talk’ on CBS.
Carrie brought the house down with slightly inappropriate drug references, before ultimately handing the Emmy to George. Imagine that! I helped create the moment when Princess Leia handed George Lucas an Emmy, while making jokes with Ozzy about sharing a drug dealer in LA… all on live TV.
What have been your best projects to date?
Not necessarily the obvious ones. Before I focused on music-related subjects, I thought it was fun to develop unexpected topics and deliver some kind of twist to make them cool. Years ago in a Discovery Channel meeting, they said “We need a new dinosaur special, but one we haven’t seen before,” to which I replied, “What about dinosaur sex?”
One year later, on Valentine’s Day, it was the premiere of ‘Tyrannosaurus Sex’, which was produced with a wink, but certainly got noticed. It somehow even made it to Entertainment Weekly’s Top Ten Must See list. Apparently, size does matter.
Tell us about your upcoming projects.
My music slate will grow this year with the development and acquisitions of original live streams, quality rock-docs, original docu-series, and scripted titles – all with a focus on music and music culture.
In terms of development, my joint initiative with C3 and Lollapalooza will deliver smart music shows across various platforms. All of them will provide unexpected ‘wow’ moments, with incredible talent and access to the world of music.
When can we see those projects?
Stay tuned! We’ll be announcing new titles and productions as we get closer to MIPTV, which kicks off on April 12th.
Featured photo credit: CNN