A close friend of mine died last night. It was not unexpected. He had head and neck cancer that couldn’t be beat despite months and months of trying everything with the best doctors and a wide variety of alternative and nutritional approaches. I am so sad.

My friend was someone you may have known, at least by his fine work. Michael Piller, 57, was my Hollywood success story, a good friend and a mentor to me. Mike was my classmate at the University of North Carolina some 38 years ago, a fellow news reporter in Charlotte in the ’70s, and a guiding light when I moved to Los Angeles in search of show business success in the ’80s. (I ultimately chose another path, but that’s a story for another day.)

Because of his vivid imagination and great writing skills, Mike became a top television writer/producer on “Simon and Simon” and “Miami Vice” and then struck gold as co-executive producer of the “Star Trek” series. He wrote some of the movies as well. Recently, he was executive producer of “The Dead Zone.”

But despite his professional triumphs and the financial success that goes with it, Mike couldn’t beat cancer. He didn’t smoke or abuse his body. He was a kind man, fun to be with, and very giving. He died way too soon.

No doubt you have lost someone too. Perhaps a family member or a close friend stolen away by a “beast” of a disease. We like to be hopeful and chronicle medical progress. But it isn’t always that way. This is one of those times.

Mike, we’ll catch you in your reruns and celebrate the gifts you shared while you were with us.

–Andrew