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Veteran TV producer Jeffrey M. Hayes, who oversaw development of “MacGyver” and “Star Trek: The Next Generation” as executive VP of Paramount Pictures, has died from an illness unrelated to COVID. He was 68.

Hayes started his career as a producer, writer and director with Aaron Spelling Productions, where he worked on memorable series including “Vega$” and “T.J. Hooker.”

In the late 1980s, Hayes went to Australia’s Gold Coast where he began to build the infrastructure for a longstanding operation that would produce over 300 hours of international television. He later served as president of Village Roadshow Pictures Television, where he executive produced “Sahara,” “In Pursuit of Honor” and the TV remake of “Mission Impossible.”

In 2000, Hayes started his own production company, Coote/Hayes Productions, and served as executive producer for projects such as “Salem’s Lot,” “Starter Wife” and “Nightmares & Dreamscapes: From the Stories of Stephen King,” where he first met director-producer Brian Henson. 

Hayes’ professional accomplishments include winning the AFI award for Best Miniseries for “On The Beach,” the VFX Emmy award for “Stephen King’s ‘Battleground’” and the NAACP award for Best TV Movie for “Trip To Bountiful.”

“Jeff was one of the loveliest people in the world, with an infectious laugh that could shut down a room,” said Henson. “Meeting Jeff on ‘Battleground’ began a long friendship and working relationship that I treasured. He was an astute producer who could make tough decisions while remaining kind — a tough balancing act in this work. I will miss him dearly.”

“Jeffrey’s presence, persistence and trust of the Australian filmmakers that we could deliver a product for the world and not just for our local screens, will never be forgotten,” said Australian director Colin Budds. “He was instrumental in so many careers. His legacy lives on here in Australia. He will be forever in our hearts.”

Budds and Hayes worked together on the 1993 action series, “Time Trax.”

Hayes is survived by his wife and business partner Lisa Hayes, children Christopher and Jacqueline and siblings Chip, Cathy and Cindy.