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Moves at top sharpen Focus

Schamus, Karpen upped to new exec roles

NBC Universal specialty arm Focus Features has upped James Schamus to CEO, and has promoted its COO Andrew Karpen to Focus prexy.

Karpen will also move into the role of co-prexy of Focus’ genre banner Rogue, with Andrew Rona.

Moves come two months after David Linde was named co-chair of Universal Pictures.

The announcement solidifies Schamus’ role as the sole leader of the Focus banner, which has had a string of specialty pic successes over the past year that include “Brokeback Mountain” and “The Constant Gardener.”

Schamus is now formally responsible for all aspects of Focus, Rogue and its international division.

Move also gives Karpen — a well-respected behind-the-scenes player — a more visible role at the company. Exec will now have broad oversight of the unit’s domestic and international activities, and will be responsible for worldwide finance, daily operations and strategic planning.

Based in Gotham, Karpen joined Focus as in 2003. He was previously at Oxygen Media, where he had been senior veep, finance and planning, for three years.

Rona — the former Dimension Films vet who came to Rogue last year as production prexy — will move to Los Angeles as part of the reorganization. Working with Karpen, he’ll share responsibility for the genre arm.

“These promotions only confirm what we’ve long known: that under James’ leadership, Focus and Rogue will continue the extraordinary success and growth that he and David (Linde) put in motion — and that the key to that success is the empowerment of the tremendous executive team already in place,” said Universal chairman Marc Shmuger.

“I know firsthand how (Schamus’) business acumen and formidable creative talents combine to make him an outstanding studio head,” added Linde, who began working with Schamus in 1997 at Good Machine.

Focus’ slate includes Woody Allen’s “Scoop,” Allen Coulter’s “Hollywoodland” and Kasi Lemmons’ “Talk to Me.”

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