Canvas Media Studios has named three TV executives — Sandy Grushow, Lee Rierson, Peter Tortorici — to its advisory board, as the digital-focused media company looks to expand its production slate.
The L.A.-based company, formed in 2015 by Bernie Su and David Tochterman, also announced that has hired Allison Vanore to head production and Stephanie Boxerbaum to lead business and legal affairs.
As members of the advisory board, the trio of execs are receiving equity stakes in Canvas Media Studios (but they are not investors). Grushow is the former chairman of the Fox Television Entertainment Group; Rierson is the former COO of FremantleMedia North America and Shine America; and Tortorici is the former president of CBS Entertainment and ex-CEO of GroupM Entertainment. The company said as advisers they will be identifying new projects and potential business relationships.
Grushow, who now runs media advisory firm Phase 2 Media, said he’s been an admirer of Bernie Su and his breakthrough work in multiplatform storytelling and has known Tochterman for years.
“If this was traditional short-form content, I would have said ‘Thank you,’ and moved on,” Grushow said. “But because of Bernie’s past work it became clear what the company can become. You’ve got a world where obviously young adults are congregating on social networks and an app ecosystem generating tens of billions of dollars – those are areas of interest to me.” Other companies Grushow works with include Shareability, Two Bit Circus, 3BlackDot, and TubiTV.
“Canvas Media Studios is aggressively targeting series franchises with the potential for international distribution across a variety of premium platforms, and we are very fortunate to be able to have Lee Rierson, Sandy Grushow and Peter Tortorici actively involved as Canvas enters into a period of sustained growth,” Tochterman, CEO of Canvas Media Studios, said in a statement. “Their guidance and business acumen will prove invaluable as the lines between digital and television continue to blur.”
Canvas recently announced a strategic investment from Entertainment One focused on distribution, production and financing of premium scripted content for digital and traditional media. Other investors include Allen DeBevoise’s Third Wave Digital and MNM Creative.
Among the pilots Canvas has greenlit for production this summer are: “Delinquents,” written by and starring Selyna Warren and Marissa Read (showrunners for AwesomenessTV’s “Foursome” for YouTube Red), a comedy about two lifelong friends exiting juvenile prison at 25 who have to make their way in the real world; and “Co-ed Protocol,” created and written by Su, a “desktop procedural” format — incorporating video and social media posts — about young undercover operatives.
Vanore previously worked with Canvas Media Studios as a producer on its digital series “Vanity.” Other credits include digital series “Anyone But Me” and feature films “Daddy,” “Love in the Time of Monsters” and “Hopelessly in June.” Vanore’s recently completed projects include “42 Seconds of Happiness”; currently in post-production are “The Rainbow Experiment” and “Buck Run.”
Boxerbaum, an attorney with an entrepreneurial background, previously served as EVP of business development and business affairs for DanceOn for over four years. She’s also the founder of lifestyle programming brand I’ll Have the Fries. Boxerbaum will continue to represent other clients through her strategic law firm Box Counsel.