James Schamus Beefs Up Company, Hires Production Head (Exclusive)

Courtesy of Slate PR; AP Images
Joe Pirro, James Schamus

He's tapped Joe Pirro to serve as head of production for Symbolic Exchange.

Former Focus Features chief James Schamus is ramping up his production company, Symbolic Exchange.

In his first major hire, Schamus has tapped Joe Pirro to serve as head of production. Pirro, who did a stint at Focus, arrives at Symbolic from The Weinstein Co., where he was a creative executive.

"As Symbolic Exchange begins to build up its slate, we've found a perfect match in Joe — a brilliant, type-A cinephile who is also one of the nicest people in the business," Schamus said.

Added Pirro: "I'm incredibly excited to work with James, especially because of the wide range of projects we will be working on, from low-budget independents to bigger productions."

Pirro began his career in the mailroom at UTA before working in the motion picture literary department. He later worked at Red Hour Films.

In another move, Schamus has promoted Lily Spottiswoode to development coordinator.

Schamus is preparing to make his feature directorial debut this summer with his adaptation of Philip Roth’s best-selling novel Indignation. He's reteaming with his longtime collaborator Anthony Bregman to produce the film.

Set in 1951, the story follows Marcus Messner, the idealistic son of a humble kosher butcher from Newark, N.J. Marcus leaves for Ohio to study at a small, conservative college, where he finds himself at odds with the administration, grapples with anti-Semitism and sexual repression, and pines after a troubled girl.