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Art & culture, literature, visual arts, music, biography, history media programs

Creative Team

Karen Thomas —  Producer, Writer, Director

Karen Thomas

Karen Thomas

An award-winning producer, writer and director whose PBS documentaries include 13 prime-time productions, Karen Thomas has contributed 17 hours of cultural programming to the national PBS television schedule over the past 28 years.  James McNeill Whistler & The Case for Beauty is her third program on the visual arts. Future projects include a documentary on social change in 19th-Century America, and a project on the visual arts.

Thomas’s most recent production, Cinema’s Exiles: From Hitler to Hollywood, aired on PBS in January 2009 in the United States and has been broadcast in France, Belgium, Australia and Great Britain, among other countries. The documentary was featured at the Atlanta and Toronto Jewish Film Festivals.

Thomas founded Film Odyssey in 1986 after serving as vice president of the Film Company in Washington, DC, where she produced Power and Prejudice in America and co-produced Herman Melville, Dammed in Paradise with the late Robert D. Squier.  While at the Film Company, Thomas developed and funded a three-part documentary series on F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway and Thomas Wolfe.

Thomas began her television career at the Public Broadcasting Service.  During her tenure, she encouraged and solicited quality documentaries from independent producers for the network, and was responsible for the review of acquisitions and proposals from independent producers, management of program discretionary funds and the initiation of a long-term program planning system for the network.

Thomas has served as a juror and panelist for the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Endowment for the Arts and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.  A member of the Directors Guild and the Writers Guild, she holds a BA in history from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.


 Adam Lingo — Editor

Adam Lingo is a Washington — based online and off-line editor with 25 years of experience.  In addition to Film Odyssey’s James McNeill Whistler and the Case for Beauty and Robert Rauschenberg: Inventive Genius, Lingo’s credits include productions for BBC/Discover Channel (Human Planet), National Geographic Explorer, PBS, The Learning Channel and AMC.  He has been an online editor at TEAM Video, and The Park Group in Washington.  Lingo was editor for the Peabody Award-winning PBS series 180 Days: A Year Inside an American High School.


Rebecca Taylor —  Associate Producer

 Rebecca Taylor began her documentary career at Middlemarch Films as production assistant on AMERICAN EXPERIENCE: Alexander Hamilton.  Most recently, she was associate producer for the two-hour PBS program Arts & The Mind, and worked on the WGBH series Market Warriors and PBS’s Nancy Reagan: Role of a Lifetime. A Grinnell College graduate, Taylor was awarded a Fulbright grant to research photographs in Uruguay.  Taylor managed image acquisitions, production support, and b-roll cinematography for James McNeill Whistler.


Colin Winters Bayly —  Senior Researcher/Assistant Producer

 Colin Winters Bayly trained in 19th-Century Studies at King’s College London and Art Business at Christie’s Education New York. He has worked at the Archives of American Art, The Folger Shakespeare Library, and The Phillips Collection. Bayly was responsible for locating artworks, letters, and ephemera in the U.S. and abroad. He also served as Technical Advisor on the dramatic recreations in James McNeill Whistler.


 Peter Melnick  —  Composer

 Composer Peter Melnick has contributed scores to over 30 films, documentaries and television programs.  He has been composing Film Odyssey’s scores since his first collaboration with producer/director Karen Thomas on the television series Dinosaurs!  Melnick has scored The GI Bill: The Law That Changed America, Robert Rauschenberg: Inventive Genius, Cinema’s Exiles: From Hitler to Hollywood, and most recently, James McNeill Whistler & The Case for Beauty.  Melnick nationally recognized for his work in musical theater; his first musical, Adrift in Macao (book and lyrics by Christopher Darang) received a Drama Desk nomination in the Outstanding Music category.



The Freer Gallery of Art|Arthur M. Sackler Gallery

James McNeill Whistler & The Case for Beauty is being produced in association with the Smithsonian Institution’s Freer Gallery of Art, which owns the most extensive collection of Whistler’s paintings, etchings, lithographs, drawings, chalk and pastels, correspondence, photographs, preliminary drawings and other Whistler-related archival materials in the world, as well as the famed “Peacock Room”, which was placed at the Freer Gallery of Art in its entirety.

James McNeill Whistler” also benefits from a strong relationship with the University of Glasgow, Scotland, which holds the second largest Whistler collection and with Colby College, which has the third largest.  These two institutions, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Freer Gallery of Art form the Lunder Consortium for Whistler Studies, which fosters original scholarship and critical analysis about the artist.


1A Productions

The talented production team of award-winning director Norman Stone developed the visualizations, which were shot in London, that are included in James McNeill Whistler & The Case for Beauty.  Based in Glasgow, 1A Productions produces a broad range of documentary and dramatic programming including The Narnia Code (2009) and  KJB: The Book That Changed the World (2011).  1A Productions’ documentaries and dramas are regularly broadcast on the BBC.



Public television station WETA in Washington, DC, presenter of Ken Burn’s Prohibition series, Maro Chermayeff’s Carrier, and The Documentary Group’s America in Prime Time coordinated the presentation of James McNeill Whistler’s PBS broadcast, was responsible for program promotion and station relations, and developed the PBS website.



Sarah Burns, Ruth N. Halls Professor of Fine Arts, Indiana University, Bloomington.
Lee Glazer, Associate Curator of American Art, Freer Gallery of Art.
Linda Merrill, Instructor, Department of Art History, Emory University, Curator of American Art, Freer Gallery, 1986—1998.
Daniel Sutherland, Professor of History, University of Arkansas, Whistler biographer.
Martha Tedeschi, Curator of Prints and Drawings at the Art Institute of Chicago.
Nigel Thorp, former Director of the Centre for Whistler Studies, University of Glasgow.



Film Odyssey will make outreach materials about James McNeill Whistler & The Case for Beauty available to museums around the nation through Whistlerfest!   — its intensive public programming initiative at the 38 museums owning Whistler paintings, and the many more with Whistler works on paper.


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