James Edward Burrows (born December 30, 1940) is an American television director who has been working in television since the 1970s. Burrows has directed over 50 television pilots and co-created the long running television series Cheers.
After Yale, Burrows returned to California where he became employed as a dialogue coach on O.K. Crackerby!, a television show staring Burl Ives and created by Burrow's father, Abe. Burrows then took a job as an assistant stage manager on the play Holly Golightly, an adaptation of the novella Breakfast at Tiffany's. The production was unsuccessful, but the job served as Burrows' introduction to its star, Mary Tyler Moore. Burrows later wrote Moore and her then husband Grant Tinker seeking a job at their production company, MTM Enterprises. Burrows became a director for MTM Enterprises where he directed episodes of The Mary Tyler Moore Show and The Bob Newhart Show.
Burrows' style is best known for his comic timing, complex blocking for actors, and incorporating more sophisticated lighting in television studio shoots. He is also credited for expanding the typical multi-camera television shoot from three to four cameras.
Burrows co-created Cheers with brothers Glen and Les Charles. The Charles brothers were also former employees of MTM Enterprises and served as producers on the show Taxi where Burrows worked as in house director. Burrows and the Charles brothers wanted to create a show where they could have more control. Cheers premiered on NBC on September 30, 1982. Although Cheers initially struggled in the ratings, the show became a hit, running 275 episodes over eleven seasons. Burrows directed all but thirty-five of those 275 episodes.
Burrows has had cameo appearances in several of the shows for which he has directed. He also appears as a television director named Jimmy in the 2005 HBO series The Comeback. Burrows played himself on the series. An episode of Scrubs, "My Life in Four Cameras", had a character named Charles James in honor of Cheers creators Burrows and Glen and Les Charles.