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Steve O'Donnell (writer)

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Alma mater  Harvard University
Siblings  Mark O'Donnell
Occupation  Writer
Relatives  Mark O’Donnell (twin brother)
Education  Columbia Lions men's basketball, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Awards  Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing - Variety Series
Known for  Late Night with David Letterman, Jimmy Kimmel Live!
Nominations  WGA Award for Best Comedy/Variety - Music, Awards, Tributes - Specials - Television
Similar  David Letterman, Jeff Martin, Donick Cary, Steve Young, Kevin Curran

Steve O'Donnell is an American television writer. His credits include The Simpsons, Seinfeld, The Chris Rock Show and Late Night with David Letterman.


He was born in Cleveland, Ohio, and graduated with an A.B. degree from Harvard College in 1976. He also did graduate studies in American history at Columbia University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

He was in the David Letterman show almost since the beginning. The Top Ten List was invented while he was head writer of the show, and he wrote the lists in collaboration with the other writers of the show. According to O'Donnell, the Top Ten List was an "almost simultaneous inspiration arriving from staffers Jim Downey, Randy Cohen and Robert “Morty” Morton — largely prompted by the ridiculous 'eligible bachelor' lists in a local New York paper that included the 84-year-old Bill Paley. 'Why, we can put such nonsense together ourselves!' we exclaimed. And we did." He later co-authored several of the Top-ten books based in the show. During Letterman’s final season, O’Donnell wrote and spoke about his time as head writer on the show, and compiled his own list of the show’s “top ten” moments for The New York Times.

He was the head writer of Jimmy Kimmel Live! from the show's debut in January 2003 until 2008. He occasionally appeared acting in comedy bits for the show in front of camera as well.

He is the identical twin of Mark O'Donnell, the Tony-award winning co-writer of the Broadway musical Hairspray who died on August 6, 2012. Steve supported his brother by encouraging California voters to vote no on Prop. 8 in 2008.

He won Primetime Emmy Awards in the "Outstanding Writing in a Variety or Music Program" category on four occasions: for Late Night with David Letterman in 1984, 1986 and 1987 and for The Chris Rock Show in 1998.

Simpsons episodes written by O'Donnell

  • All Singing, All Dancing
  • The Joy of Sect
  • Seinfeld episodes written by O'Donnell

  • The Pothole
  • The Checks
  • References

    Steve O'Donnell (writer) Wikipedia