Stargate suffered the loss of a loved and respected member of our extended family yesterday with the sudden passing of Nora O’Brien. Before becoming Vice President of Drama Programming for NBC Entertainment and Universal Media Studios, Nora was VP of Original Programming at SciFi Channel where, for several years, she oversaw the production of both Stargate: SG-1 and Stargate: Atlantis. She was intelligent, skilled, highly-focused and, above all, a genuinely kind and caring individual.

Back on January 22 of 2007, I dedicated a blog entry to the often exasperating process of taking script notes. I wrote: “Still, good notes will not only make the script better, but they will make you a better writer. Bad notes, on the other hand, only serve to frustrate and occasionally cause you to question the intelligence of the person delivering them. For instance, while I may not agree with all of their notes, I respect the people I work with enough to value their input because, more often than not, they’re right. The same can be said for SciFi’s Nora O’Brien who always bring a sharp perspective to every script. In this respect, I am spoiled.”

And working with Nora, we WERE spoiled because, at the end of the day, she wasn’t just a network representative giving us notes but someone whose passion for her work and devotion to the franchise made her an ally, supporter, and friend. She was our champion at Sci-Fi – ever-approachable; always willing to lend a sympathetic ear.

Almost two years ago, Nora left SciFi for a position with NBC. At the time, I wrote: “It turned out to be great news for Nora O’Brien who, on the heels of a well-deserved promotion, will be leaving SciFi for NBC where she will assume the duties of VP of Development. As many of you long-time readers of this blog know, I’m a big Nora fan. She’s a pleasure to work with – smart, savvy, creative, and, well, just one hell of a nice person on both a professional and personal level. [… ] And so, to be perfectly candid, while I’m thrilled to see Nora move up and on to hopefully bigger and better things, a selfish little part of me is kind of bummed. I know I speak for Paul, Rob, Brad, Martin, Carl, and Alan when I say we’re really going to miss her. Nevertheless, congratulations to Nora. Maybe some day, if and when Stargate ever ends, we’ll get the chance to work together again.”

I’m saddened that I’ll never get that chance.

61 thoughts on “April 30, 2009: A Sad Day

  1. How tragic. So sudden, so young. Life is just too fragile. So very sorry for your loss, Joe… there’s really nothing else I can say.



  2. Our most sincere condolences to Ms O’Brien’s family, friends and co-workers. May she rest in peace. Ron and Deni B.

  3. Dear Joe (and extended Stargate family),

    Please accept my condolences on the passing of Ms O’Brien. May your memories provide you some solace in the coming days. Best wishes to Ms. O’Brien’s family, friends and co-workers.


  4. My thoughts are with her family and friends. I am sure she will be missed.


  5. My condolences to all those who knew Ms. O’Brian and had the pleasure to work with her. I hope her family might take some solace from your poignant eulogy.

  6. Joe, I remember your fondness of Nora O’Brien from some of your past blogs, especially your thoughts when she left for NBC. My deepest sympathies and prayers go out to her family and all her friends and co-workers.
    – Lesley

  7. Mr. M.,

    Ditto…Please accept my condolences on the passing of Ms O’Brien. She was an awesome persons

  8. Hey Joe…

    I am so sorry to hear of Ms O’Brien’s passing. It is such a terrible thing to lose someone close to you. Please pass along my condolences to both the Stargate cast and crew as well Ms O’Brien’s family.


  9. My condolences Ms O’Brien’s family and dear ones, to you Joe and the Stargate Crew, and the NBC/SciFi people who had the pleasure of knowing and working with her. Thanks be to Nora for all she did to help make the Stargate franchise great!

  10. I was so shocked and sorry to hear this today. I met Nora for a moment at Comic Con 2007. She stopped by to visit the savecarson contingent after the SGA panel. She was so appreciative of SCB’s enthusiasm; not annoyed by the campaign at all. In fact she said she’d wished she could have sent us a thank you note for some flowers we’d sent to her, but the lawyers had told her not to. Ha! I was just amazed by how nice and fan-friendly she was; not a “suit” at all. If I could be that affected in 5 minutes, I can only imagine how her close associates, friends, and family are feeling. My sincere sympathies to all. I hope Parenthood succeeds in her memory.

  11. Adding my condolences.

    Less serious subject: NBA basketball (USA). Joe and I will not have a bet this year, as both the Detroit Pistons and the San Antonio Spurs have been eliminated.

  12. Oh, no. That’s terrible news. I remember that post quite well where you praised her. My thoughts to her family and her extended Stargate family.

  13. There are no words for the sorrow of losing someone special. My prayers are with all who knew Nora.


  14. My deepest sympathy to all who worked with Ms O’Brien, and especially to her family. Truly, exec’s like her are few and far between. I hope you can find some way to honor her in the Stargate movies.

  15. Bonjour Joseph.

    Rohh quel triste nouvelle, elle est parti à quel age? c’est dommage que sa soit toujour les personnes les plus exceptionnel qui parte avant .

    Toute mes cour de louance.

    Bonne journée quand même

  16. Sorry to here about the passing of Nora O’Brien and thinking of her family and friends.

  17. I heard about this earlier today. Just such a terrible and sad loss, and so sudden. She was far too young.

    I still remember seeing video of her during one of the Comic Cons, and she was able to snark with the best of you writers. That got a thumbs up from me. From your words, it seems clear that she was a great person.

    My condolences to her family, her friends, and her colleagues. May she Rest In Peace.

  18. I would like to extend my sincerest condolences to the families of Nora O’Brien and the Stargate family for your loss.
    I wish I had something more profound to write but I know all too well that at this time, no words can heal the hurt. Please know that we are thinking of you all.

  19. Hi Mr M,

    I am very saddened to hear of Ms O’ Brien’s passing. Like a lot of the regulars here, I well remember your entries about her. Of course, her name sticks out in my mind…it being Irish. Our thoughts and prayers are with her family at this time.

    God’s Speed.


  20. Aw I’m so sorry. My thoughts to her family, friends and co-workers. 🙁

  21. That’s so very sad. I’m sorry to hear about Nora O’Brien.

    My thoughts and prayers are with her family, friends, and the people of Stargate who knew her. It’s always so hard when we lose a good one. Sounds like she was a great one. So it’s even worse.


  22. Wow Joe, I’m so sorry. Her friends and family will be in my prayers.

  23. Condolences on her loss, thoughts and prayers with her family and friends, especially good friends like you Joe.

  24. I remember those blog entries where you wrote so fondly of Nora. My condolences to you, the Stargate family, and Nora’s family and friends.

  25. My condolences as well, she sounds like she was an amazing person. We share the same name.

  26. I do remember you writing about Nora. This is sad news. My condolences to her family and to all those who knew and loved her.

  27. So sorry for all of Ms. O’Brien’s family and friends. No one expects something like this in one so young.


  28. Oh Joe, please accept my sincere condolences. I truly believe that Nora will continue on in your heart as all good friends do.

    Be at peace and know your online family supports you, the Stargate family, Nora’s family and all who knew and held her dear.

    May God bless,

    (Carol Z)

  29. Dear Joe,

    I am so sorry to hear of the loss of your good friend and advocate. She will be sadly missed. Her legacy will continue on in the productions that she brought to the viewing public.

    My condolences to her family and to all those who knew and loved her.


  30. So sad to hear Ms O’Brien’s passing,so young. My condolences to family and friends and everyone that knew her. so sad.

  31. Condolences to all who knew Ms. O’Brien. Prayers to her family and friends. May she always be remembered fondly.

    Patty O

  32. My condolences to the O’Brien friends and family.
    My thoughts and prayers are with you all.
    A question for the mailbag:
    Someone posted the content of the SGA Season 5 DVD and it appears that there are commentaries or BTS bits for most of the eps.
    However there are none for The Shrine. Why is this? The Shrine was one of my most favorite episodes, ever and I would have loved to learn more about it.
    Midway last year also didn’t have a commentary and it was really missed!

  33. So very sorry to hear about Nora’s passing. My deepest sympathies to her family, friends and all who worked with her. My thoughts are with you all.

  34. My condolences to you, the Stargate family, and all of Ms. O’Brien’s family and friends. She will be missed.



  35. I am truly sorry for the loss of such a sweet individual as Nora. In Chapter 34 of John Steinbeck’s East of Eden he talks about the value of life and death. In that we are defined by the effect we have on those around us. How we can tell the importance of a life by the effect it has on those left behind.

    “Is his death felt as a loss or does a kind of joy come of it?…if he dies unloved his life must be a failure to him and his dying a cold horror…we should remember our dying and try so to live that our death brings no pleasure to the world. ”

    The loss of such a life as Nora brings no pleasure to this world only an aching void. She was loved and her life sucessful in every way. Those who knew her will feel the absense of her presence every day and the comfort of her memory.

    The final words from David Lynch’s The Elephant Man may help too.

    “Never. Oh, never. Nothing will die. The stream flows, the wind blows, the cloud fleets, the heart beats. Nothing will die.”

    God bless her and her family and I pray that He gives them, and everyone who knew her, strength.

  36. My sincere condoleances. It would seem yesterday was not a good day at all: over here in the Netherlands, it was Queen’s day but some lunatic drove his car into the crowd that had gathered to watch the queen, killing 7 people and gravely injuring over a dozen more.

  37. Hi Joe,
    My sincere condolences to you, Nora’s family, and extedned family at Stargate, SciFi, and NBC Universal. I remembered some of the past entries where you spoke quite fondly of her, as you did again today, and she shall be remembered as such. My deepest sympathies.

  38. My condolences to you and the rest of the Stargate folks, as well as to Ms. O’Brien’s family and other friends. I remember watching footage of her at ComicCon in which she was cutting up with the cast of SG-1. She was a bright, funny person and I am certain she will be greatly missed by everyone who knew her.

  39. Adding my condolences to the list as well. This is just one of those things in life that truly never makes sense.

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