Focus Names Lyons Production President and Moves Post to New York
by Eugene Hernandez
Focus Features has quickly announced the replacement for its outgoing production president Glenn Williamson. This month, producer John Lyons will join the company as a consultant and by the end of the year, when Williamson leaves his post, Lyons will take over. Lyons will report directly to company co-presidents David Linde and James Schamus who made the announcement on Friday after announcing Williamson's departure on Thursday. Williamson will become a producer with an office at Focus in L.A. Lyons will be based at Focus on N.Y.C.
John Lyons produced the recent Sundance hit "Pieces of April," written and directed by Peter Hedges. The film, which stars Katie Holmes, Patricia Clarkson, Oliver Platt, and Derek Luke, was acquired by United Artists during the 2003 Sundance fest and will be released later this year.
Early in Lyons career he served as a casting director for Playwrights Horizon and the Manhattan Theatre Club. He also cast a number of Coen Brothers films including "Raising Arizona," "Miller's Crossing," "Barton Fink," "The Hudsucker Proxy," "Fargo," and "The Big Lebowski." He also served as casting director for the Sundance Director's Lab for six years. Lyons has produced a mixture of large and smaller budget pictures, including "Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me" and "Austin Powers in Goldmember," as well as Paul Thomas Anderson's "Hard Eight" and "Boogie Nights," as well as Myles Connell's "The Opportunists."
Among Lyons team at Focus are EVP of production Joe Pichirallo, EVP of acquisitions and co-productions Amy Kaufman and production VP Kahli Small.
"John has been that rare producer who has successfully shuttled between big and small films, and between stage and screen, in the process establishing excellent relationships with creative people - which is precisely what motivates us," said Focus' Linde and Schamus in a prepared statement. "We're delighted that he has accepted our invitation to join us at Focus."
Focus Features, the specialty film label of Universal Pictures, is a division of Vivendi Universal. It was created in May of last year when Universal acquired Good Machine and merged the company with its USA Films specialty division. Good Machine partners James Schamus and David Linde assumed the role of co-president and former Good Machine partner Ted Hope left to partner in a new production company called This Is That. Vivendi Universal is currently considering offers to sell its entertainment assets.