James E. Reilly, a sometimes controversial soap scribe who twice served as Days of Our Lives' headwriter and created the supernatural-themed Passions, passed away over the weekend, at age 60, Soap Opera Digest reports. Reilly was recovering in the hospital from cardiac surgery when he died.
"James Reilly was one of the most profoundly lovely human beings in our industry," his agent and longtime fiend Jonathan Russo tells Digest. "He was a towering person in our industry who had a tremendous faith in God and Catholicism, as anyone who watched Passions knows. Everyone will miss him."
Reilly ruled the bible at Days from 1992 to 1997 (during which he gave us Marlena's possession) and again from 2003 to 2006, at which time he set loose the "Salem Stalker" in a bid to boost ratings. The serial slayer appeared to snuff veteran characters such as Abe, Roman, Doug and Alice (god bless her donuts), but ultimately the "deceased" were revealed to be held captive on island replica of Salem called Melaswen (read the name backwards).
Between his Days gigs, Reilly created for NBC a new soap named Passions, and served as headwriter until its cancellation earlier this year. As headwriter of Guiding Light, Reilly's staff won a Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Drama Series Writing in 1993.