EXCLUSIVE: Yesterday’s bombshell that caught everyone at Focus Features by surprise has given way to a collective depression among the people at Focus who watched the abrupt exit of their leader James Schamus, and learned Universal will close the Gotham headquarters after incoming head Peter Schlessel arrives in January. There have been speculative reports about what form Focus might take, but before any of that gets sorted, they need to figure out who at Focus will continue to work there going forward. I’m told that those discussions started today with Andrew Karpen, the 10-year Focus vet who was promoted to co-CEO at the Cannes Film Festival. Karpen flew out to the studio for meetings today and I’m told that the studio would like Karpen to stay; the question is whether or not he will relocate his family. Karpen has been a rock star there, and a catalyst in the Toronto acquisition of world rights on the Jason Bateman-directed comedy Bad Words, which, along with the John Carney-directed Can A Song Save Your Life? were the two most coveted acquisition titles and biggest deals at the festival. Karpen has also been involved in Focus’ best Oscar hopeful, the Matthew McConaughey-starrer Dallas Buyers Club, which got stellar notices at Toronto. Schlessel has his own FilmDistrict staff to take care of, but I hope he and Donna Langley …
Deadline told you Aug. 15 that Focus Features would name Vendome’s Jeb Brody its new production president replacing John Lyons, who left to produce films and focus on philanthropic pursuits. Focus just made it official. Here’s the release:
LOS ANGELES (August 24th, 2011) – Jeb Brody is joining Focus Features as the worldwide film companys president of production. Focus CEO James Schamus and president Andrew Karpen, to whom Mr. Brody will report, made the announcement today.
Mr. Brody, who begins work next month, will be stepping into the production presidency post being vacated by John Lyons, who is returning to working as a film producer as well as devoting more time to his philanthropic endeavors. While Mr. Brody will be based in Focus West Coast offices, he will oversee the global Focus production team already in place in New York, London, and Los Angeles.
EXCLUSIVE: As John Lyons prepares to leave his production president post to focus on philanthropy, Focus Features top executives James Schamus and Andrew Karpen are in talks with Jeb Brody to replace him. Brody, who is currently president of production for producer/financer Vendome Pictures, is well regarded in the indie sphere. He was a producer of Sunshine Cleaning and was the executive producer of Little Miss Sunshine while he worked at Big Beach. Brody exec produced Vencome’s first two film productions, Source Code and Larry Crowne. Lyons made public his plan right after the Cannes Film Festival.
Lyons is leaving to devote more time to his pet project, the Edible Schoolyard/NYC. He is the founder and board chairman of the charity, which mixes his passion for the environment and growing food at the schools. He will oversee an expansion of the program to schools in the five New York boroughs, and he’ll also continue his work on the board of Alice Waters’ Chez Panisse Foundation, which is the national program for the Edible Schoolyard initative. He’s also on the board of GrowNYC, a non-profit that promotes environmental awareness and runs the city’s Greenmarket programs.