EXCLUSIVE: Artists, Writers and Artisans (AWA), the creator-owned graphic novel publisher and studio, has named Matthew Anderson, a strategic advisor at James Murdoch’s Lupa Systems and former Roku chief marketing officer, to its board and tapped, Bob Cohen — former longtime legal chief of the former 20th Century Fox — as EVP and General Counsel.
Anderson will also become an investor in AWA, the start-up founded in 2018 by former Marvel executives Bill Jemas and Axel Alonso and chaired by Jon Miller. It’s been expanding, launching AWA Studios led by by Zach Studin last summer. The first two projects are feature films Chariot, acquired by Warner Bros. with Joseph Kosinski (Top Gun: Maverick) directing and 21 Laps producing; and Old Haunts, which is being adapted internally by screenwriter Aaron Rabin. Both are based on graphic fiction series.
AWA is backed by Lupa Systems, Sister (the content company formed by Elisabeth Murdoch, Stacey Snider and Jane Featherstone) and Lightspeed.
“We have assembled a team of senior executives, board members and backers with rare pedigree in television, film, streaming and the knowledge of how to align incentives with the outstanding creative talent that is choosing to work with AWA,“ said Jemas.
Anderson was Roku’s first chief marketing officer for seven years through 2020 when he left to join Lupa Systems. He was a major advocate for free TV initiatives, including The Roku Channel, and oversaw marketing partnerships with major streaming services and studios. He previously held top roles at News Corp., as Group Director, Strategy and Corporate Affairs, Europe and Asia, and at Sky, where he headed brand marketing and communications.
Anderson lauded AWA’s “depth in the industry” and called it “forward-thinking in its approach to talent and content.”
“AWA is fostering creative excellence with long-term ownership by creators and a unique support system that includes editorial partnership, modern marketing, TV & film development and franchise strategy,” he said.
Cohen served as EVP, Legal Affairs for 20th Century Fox – renamed 20th Century Studios after being acquired by Disney — for 25 years through early 2020. Cohen had also been EVP for Fox Stage Productions, overseeing more than a dozen shows in development and production.
He’s currently producing three upcoming Broadway productions including Mrs. Doubtfire (Broadway, 2021), Secret Lives of Bees (West End, 2022) and Devil Wears Prada (Broadway, 2022).