Richard Lindheim Dies: TV Executive & ‘The Equalizer’ Co-Creator Was 81

Richard Lindheim, a veteran TV executive who co-created the 1985 series The Equalizer and served as an executive producer on the upcoming CBS reboot, passed away earlier today, Jan. 18, of heart failure. He was 81.

Lindheim spent more than four decades in the entertainment industry, serving as a TV executive at NBC, Universal Studios and Paramount in programming, creative affairs, research, strategy and production and shepherding such popular and award-winning series as Frasier, Star Trek Voyager, Deep Space 9 and Miami Vice. 

From 1992 to 1999, Lindheim was EVP of the Paramount Television Group, where he established Paramount Digital Entertainment, the studio’s Internet technology group. From that, Lindheim, who held a B.S. degree in electronic engineering from the University of Redlands and was a graduate student in telecommunications and engineering at USC, segued to a career focused on the intersection between entertainment and technology. In 1999, he was named executive director of the then-newly established Institute for Creative Technologies at USC.

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He also co-founded RL Leaders, a company that provides immersive experiences for specialized training by blending Hollywood creativity and high technology to create virtual reality simulations.

With Michael Sloan, Lindheim created the 1985 drama series The Equalizer, which ran on CBS for four years and spawned a hit movie starring Denzel Washington and a CBS series reimagening, headlined by Queen Latifah. Lindheim executive produced the new series, now in production, which landed the highest-profile premiere slot possible, behind the Super Bowl on Feb. 7.

“He was watching dailies of The Equalizer til the last day; he was so excited to see the show go into production and was ready to tune in and watch the premiere,” Lindheim’s son-in-law Ezra Dweck said.

Lindheim, who also wrote the story for and produced the 1978 series B.J. and the Bear, was a big movie buff.

“He loved movies — the old stuff, movies from the 1940s and 1950s — and contemporary films. When the theaters were open, he saw every movie when it came out. He was watching movies all the way til the end,” Dweck said.

Lindheim also loved trains; he had a collection of model trains and enjoyed train rides.

He is survived by his wife, son, daughter and two grandchildren.

Because of the pandemic, the family is planning a small private ceremony. In lieu of flowers, those who want to pay their respects may make donations in Richard’s name to the Sierra Club and to a charity of their choice.

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