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PASSINGS : James E. Reilly

Soap writer created, led 'Passions'

October 25, 2008|Times wire Reports

James E. Reilly, 60, who created the campy soap opera "Passions" and twice served as head writer on "Days of Our Lives," died Oct. 12 at a New York City hospital from complications following cardiac surgery, confirmed his agent, Jonathan Russo.

Born in 1948 in Bountiful, Utah, Reilly once said he learned the art of storytelling while visiting his grandfather's TV-free home in Ireland. Every evening, his grandfather would end a two-hour story with a cliffhanger.

Reilly wrote for "General Hospital" and "The Young and the Restless" and was named head writer of "The Guiding Light" in 1990. With his "Guiding Light" writing staff, he won a daytime Emmy in 1993.

He moved to NBC's "Days of Our Lives" in 1992 and came up with nontraditional story lines that included satanic possession of the show's main heroine. He left the show in 1997 to create "Passions."

After "Passions" debuted on NBC in 1999, the soap opera became known for outrageous -- and paranormal -- plot twists, including a magic doll that comes to life. Teenagers flocked to it, and the show remained on the air until last August.

From 2003 to 2006, Reilly was head writer for "Days of Our Lives" and "Passions." At the time, he calculated that he was responsible for filling 500 hours of television a year.

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