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.
Borrows continued working in theater as a stage manager and transitioned into directing plays. Burrows directed traveling plays and a production at a Jacksonville, Florida dinner theater. Burrows later wrote Moore and her then husband Grant Tinker seeking a job at their production company, MTM Enterprises. In 1974, Tinker hired Burrows as a director for MTM Enterprises where he directed episodes of The Mary Tyler Moore Show and The Bob Newhart Show. Tinker asked director Jay Sandrich, known for his work directing The Mary Tyler More Show and later Cosby and the Golden Girls, to serve as a mentor to Burrows. In 1998, Burrows directed a Chigago based production of the 1939 comedy "The Man Who Came to Dinner" starring John Mahoney.
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 as being one of the first sitcom directors to increase 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 for 76 episodes. 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. Burrows served as the silhouette of the customer who knocks on the door in the final scene of Cheers. In the first season of Friends, Burrows appeared in the episode "The One with the Butt" as the director of the movie in which the character Joey Tribbiani is cast as Al Pacino's butt double. 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.
^ abcdBloom, Ken; Blastnik, Frank (2007). Sitcoms: the 101 Greatest TV Comedies of All Time. New York, NY: Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers, Inc. p. 63. ISBN978-1-57912-752-7.|access-date= requires |url= (help)
^Littlefield, Warren (2012). Top of the Rock, Inside the Rise and Fall of Must See TV (1st ed.). New York, NY: Doubleday. pp. 21–22. ISBN978-0-385-53374-4.|access-date= requires |url= (help)