Paul Eckstein, co-creator of ‘Godfather of Harlem,’ dead at 59

Paul Eckstein, the co-creator of the television series “Godfather of Harlem” and the co-producer of the 1997 film “Hoodlum,” died on Tuesday. He was 59.

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Eckstein died “peacefully in his sleep” in Jamaica, according to a statement from MGM+ and ABC Signature. Eckstein was visiting the island to teach a screenwriting workshop for Strike Star Entertainment, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

“We are deeply shocked and saddened by the sudden passing of our brilliant colleague, Paul Eckstein, the co-creator and executive producer of ‘Godfather of Harlem’ and a beloved member of the MGM+ and ABC Signature families,” the companies said in its statement. “Working on the series was a labor of love for Paul who based the show in part on his family’s personal history. Paul was passionate, a creative force, known for his kindness, and generosity. He was a mentor and friend to many, and he will be dearly missed. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends, and his longtime collaborator Chris Brancato.”

Eckstein was a co-creator with Brancato on the Emmy-award-winning television series “Godfather of Harlem,” which stars Forest Whitaker as a Harlem mobster. He also was executive producer and writer on the series, according to Variety.

Eckstein and Brancato also collaborated as co-producers on “Hoodlum,” which starred Laurence Fishburne, according to

Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Eckstein graduated with honors from Brown University, where he earned degrees in international relations and creative writing, Deadline reported. He was a founding member of the Naked Angels Theater Company in New York City and appeared on Broadway, Shakespeare in the Park and the Guthrie Theater in Minnesota, according to the entertainment news website.

Eckstein moved from the stage to television and film, where he was an actor, producer and writer on several series, Variety reported.

As an actor, Eckstein appeared on “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine” and “Star Trek: Voyager.” He had writing credits on shows such as “Street Time,” “Law & Order: Criminal Intent” and “The Dead Zone,” according to Variety.

Eckstein also was a writer on the Netflix drama “Narcos” and wrote the 2016 biblical film, “Of Kings and Prophets,” according to The Hollywood Reporter.

“As we bid farewell to the brilliant force and light that was Paul Eckstein, we honor the multifaceted man who demonstrated an unwavering love for his family, a deep curiosity and compassion for humanity, and a commitment to sharing stories that opened the hearts and minds of the world,” Eckstein’s family said in a statement.

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