By Greg Gilman
LOS ANGELES (TheWrap.com) - Don Payne, a co-executive producer of "The Simpsons" and "Thor" screenwriter, died in Los Angeles on Tuesday after battling cancer. He was 48.
The University of California, Los Angeles graduate won four primetime Emmys with "The Simpsons" since joining the Fox show's writing staff in 1998. Payne wrote 16 episodes, including "Fraudcast News," which earned him the 2005 Writers Guild Paul Selvin Award.
"Don was a wonderful writer and an even more wonderful man," said "Simpsons" showrunner Al Jean in a statement. "He was beloved in the 'Simpsons' community and his untimely passing is terrible news to us all. I know he is up with Thor now looking down at us and smiling."
During his tenure at "The Simpsons," Payne also branched out into screenwriting with 2006's "My Super Ex-Girlfriend," followed by 2007's "Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer." Payne also wrote a draft of "Thor" for Marvel, before working on the sequel, "Thor: The Dark World."
"Maximum Ride," Payne's most recent writing gig, is an adaptation of a James Patterson novel about genetically-engineered children with wings taking flight across the country to discover their origins. The film doesn't yet have a release date.
Payne had two episodes of "The Simpsons" in production at the time of his death. Both are scheduled to air during the show's Season 25, including this year's Christmas special, "White Christmas Blues."
Payne is survived by his wife and three children.