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Sofia Vergara-Backed Latino Media Startup Raze Names Key Exec Hires, Adds Joe Abruzzese to Board

Raze, a digital media and production company catering to Latino audiences and storytellers, announced the hiring of several top executives and said Joe Abruzzese, former president of ad sales for Discovery Communications, has joined its board of directors.

The L.A.-based company named Rafael Sandor, formerly with Vice Media and Fox’s international networks group, as chief creative officer; journalist Daniel Hernandez, who also hails from Vice, as head of Raze News; and producers D. Matt Geller and David A. Stern as co-heads of scripted programming.

Raze, which officially launched earlier this year, was co-founded by Sofia Vergara, her longtime business partner Luis Balaguer, and Emiliano Calemzuk, ex-president of Fox Television Studios. Investors include UTA, Greycroft Partners and Raine Ventures.

“Raze was founded to tell the stories of a generation that has often been underserved by creating content that speaks from a unique Latin voice,” Calemzuk, Raze’s CEO, said in a statement. “We have taken an important step towards this goal with the additions of Rafael, Daniel, Matt, David and Joe. They are some of the best media and development talent who are experts in their respective fields and truly understand how to connect with audiences.”

Sandor most recently was head of TV marketing and creative at Viceland. Prior to that he was executive VP of marketing and creative for the international divisions of Fox and National Geographic. Sandor spent 15 years in various roles at Fox International, leading the creative teams to grow the company’s international channels from a small regional network to more than 300 channels.

Hernandez has more than 15 years of experience covering news for U.S. Latino audiences, as well as Latin American news and culture. He most recently served in a variety of roles at Vice, including as a producer and correspondent for “Vice News Tonight” on HBO, and before that worked as a reporter for the Los Angeles Times in its Mexico City bureau.

Raze has tapped Geller and Stern to spearhead the development and production of English-language scripted TV and feature films. Geller’s production credits include “Remember” starring Christopher Plummer and offbeat comedy “Four in the Morning” for the CBC. Stern is executive producer on Amazon Studios’ “The Last Tycoon,” set to premiere this summer, and the BBC/Starz miniseries “Howards End” adapted by Kenneth Lonergan.

Abruzzese left Discovery in 2016 after 14 years with the cable programmer, where he had overseen all advertising sales for U.S. networks. Prior to Discovery, he spent over a decade at CBS and 10 years at NBC.

Raze plans to launch raze.tv later this year as a mobile- and video-first destination for news, lifestyle and beauty content, and the company also has several series in production for TV networks and subscription VOD platforms. Its first production, “Su Nombre Era Dolores, la Jenn Que Yo Conocí” (“Her Name was Dolores, the Jenn I Knew”) about the late Mexican-American superstar Jenni Rivera, aired last year on Univision. The series was produced in partnership with BTF and Dhana Media.

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