James Comisar is the world expert of identifying and championing television artifacts, having created the marketplace in 1989. In addition to his curatorship of the most comprehensive archive of its kind, he formed the entertainment memorabilia department for eBay-Butterfields in 1992 and has since shared his expertise with Christie’s, Sotheby’s, and most auction houses in the United States and the United Kingdom. James’ ability to navigate this complicated art market and locate, valuate, negotiate, and acquire TV’s most iconographic objects will benefit the museum’s goal to build its own permanent collection; his credibility among Hollywood studios, artists, and production companies will bolster their future involvement in the museum’s programs, cross-promotions, and perhaps cash and non-cash donations; James’ longstanding relationship with the electronic and printed media will provide access to national publicity; and his kinship with collectors, fans, and viewers of television will provide their important perspective to the museum.
Cara Varnell has 30 years experience as an art conservator and museum professional, having worked with institutions including The Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC, The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), The Metropolitan Museum of Art (The Met) in New York City and the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) in Los Angeles. She excels at the development of exhibition storyline and design, educational and scholarly content, as well as all aspects of cataloguing, collection care, condition reporting, mounting, etc. Cara received her training at the Textile Conservation Centre in England and also holds a M.F.A. in Theater Design from New York University. She will supervise collection care for the museum, visualize intriguing and informative exhibits, and upholds the exacting standards of the American Association of Museums (AAM) and the American Institute for the Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works (AIC).
Amber Comisar is a television producer with focused experience in start-up programs. Having served in a producing capacity for some of Nickelodeon’s most popular live-action kids’ shows including iCarly, Drake & Josh, and Zoey 101, she is accustomed to working with large and varied crews of artists, craftspeople, corporate executives, and marketing executives to create a product that is educational, entertaining, and on-budget. Amber also excels in getting technical networks up and running and interactivity, having also served as a producer for TechTV and CNET.
Extended Team Members
Ellis Carter, Esq.
Ellis Carter of the Carter Law Group specializes in working with nonprofit companies with respect to their general business, tax, and regulatory needs; with donors contemplating significant gifts; and socially responsible companies considering corporate giving strategies. We have retained Ellis as legal counsel, and she will continue to guide the formation of our 501(C)(3) nonprofit organization, advise us on the evolving legal and regulatory climate for nonprofits, as well as avail us of her extensive contacts within the philanthropic sector.
Jim McPherson is a preservationist nonpareil having a focused interest in Phoenix, its history, and the adaptive reuse of its classic buildings. Jim sits on the board of the Arizona Heritage Alliance and the Arizona Preservation Foundation, and he has been a passionate and invaluable resource helping us find a home in the fifth most populated city in the United States. Jim’s deep knowledge and valuable perspective will be utilized at every step of our formation and growth.
Thinkwell Design – Exhibition Designers & Operations Manager
Thinkwell refines, designs, and builds educational experiences, entertainment, attractions, and events. Comprised of award-winning creative executives from Universal Studios and Cirque du Soleil, a few of the clients and brands they work with include the Kennedy Space Center, the Museum of Science & Industry, and Sesame Street, Harry Potter, Ice Age, and Jurassic Park exhibits and attractions. Thinkwell has guided The Comisar Collection team in devising and executing design materials, and its principal, Cliff Warner, might serve as Operations Manager on the design, build, and installation of the exhibtry that comprises our opening exhibitions. Cliff is a Yale graduate with a Masters of Fine Arts in Stage and Production Management with 25 years of experience in theatre arts and production.
InterFUEL – Interactive and Website Designers
InterFUEL is an award-winning interactive agency specializing in creating engaging digital experiences. Their clients include Nick at Nite, MTV, Comedy Central, Spike TV, Sesame Street, and others. David Holifield, founder and president of InterFUEL, designed the current Comisar Collection website and will oversee the development, managing, and master planning of museum websites and other technologies.
Jeff Abraham – Entertainment Publicist
Jeff Abraham is senior publicist for Jonas Public Relations, which has represented Jerry Seinfeld, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Michael Richards, Jason Alexander, George, Lopez, Dennis Miller, Bill Mahr, George Carlin, and others including the Museum of Television and Radio and the Paley Center for Media. He has focused expertise in long-lead publicity, product launches, and preservation (and his Abraham Comedy Archive is a respected resource of vintage recordings and source material for the Hollywood industry). Jeff has shared his expertise with The Comisar Collection since its inception and will guide our effort to keep the museum relevant within the Hollywood and news gathering communities.