Michael Piller was born into a writing family -- his father was a screenwriter and his mother a songwriter. After attending the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, he started his career as TV journalist, and proved successful winning an Emmy for his news coverage. However, by the late 1970s he moved to Los Angeles to write for narrative television. In the early 1980s he wrote for popular shows like " Simon & Simon," which featured an odd couple pairing of brothers who ran a detective agency, and "The Dukes of Hazzard," which centered on two red neck cousins and their mad-cap adventures. Piller eventually called his friend Maurice Hurley, who gave him a gig writing on the hit science fiction series "Star Trek: The Next Generation." He soon became a regular writer and producer on the show, which led to work on others of the "Star Trek" franchise, including "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine" and" Star Trek: Voyager." He wrote and produced on the pair; both were massive hits. After these shows ended he worked on another hit series, the paranormally themed " Stephen King's Dead Zone," as well as on the teen drama "Wildfire." Piller's career came to an abrupt end when died of cancer in 2005, leaving behind his wife, Sandra Pillar and their son, writer/producer Shawn Piller.