Speaking last night at the School of Visual Arts, Tyson director James Toback told a story about Focus Features’ chief James Schamus. He was the first Hollywood hotshot to be offered the film at Cannes, but he passed. Flash forward a few months when Toback’s agent calls Toback with the news that Schamus had told a mutual friend that he not only loved Tyson, but said it was by far the best thing he’d seen at Cannes.
Toback called Schamus right away. “From what I’m told you were at a Tyson screening in Cannes, and you passed,” he said. “But now I’m hearing you loved it. Somebody’s clearly lying.”
Schamus: “I passed on the movie and I loved it”
Schamus: “The movie’s brilliant, but it doesn’t fit what we do. We’ve never released a documentary at Focus. So there’s that plus I’m a financier — I’m not an acquisitions guy.”