Mike Gray, who co-wrote the Oscar-nominated screenplay for The China Syndrome about a nuclear power plant disaster cover-up, has died. Gray passed away Tuesday of heart failure at his Hollywood Hills home, his family told the Los Angeles Times. He was 77. Gray developed the China Syndrome screenplay after researching the dangers of nuclear power. It turns out the timing was uncanny. Just three weeks after the opening of the film starring Jack Lemmon, Jane Fonda and Michael Douglas, a nuclear reactor at Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania went into partial meltdown. “I meant China Syndrome to educate people about what I’d found … that our heavy reliance on nuclear plants hadn’t been clearly thought through,” Gray told the Chicago Tribune in 1998. Gray co-wrote the script with T.S. Cook and James Bridges. Gray also collaborated with Chicago’s Second City comedy group founder Howard Alk on several documentary films, including American Revolution II (1969) and The Murder Of Fred Hampton (1971). On the television side, he co-created the series Starman (1986-87) and later wrote/produced the 1988-89 season of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Gray also was also second unit director on the 1993 Best Picture Oscar nominee The Fugitive and penned 1995’s Chain Reaction. He was working on an untitled documentary at the time of his death.
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