James Burrows

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
This article is about the television director. For the New Zealand rugby player and soldier, see James Thomas Burrows.

James Edward Burrows (born December 30, 1940) is an American television director who has been working in television since the 1970s.[1] Burrows has directed over 50 television pilots and co-created the long running television series Cheers.

Early Life[edit]

Burrows was born in Los Angeles, California, the son of Ruth (Levinson) and Abe Burrows, who was a well-known composer, director and writer.[2] Burrows is a graduate of Oberlin College. He also went to the graduate program in the Yale School of Drama.


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.[3] Burrows then took a job as an assistant stage manager on the play Holly Golightly, an adaptation of the novella Breakfast at Tiffany's.[4] The production was unsuccessful, but the job served as Burrows' introduction to its star, Mary Tyler Moore.[4] Burrows later wrote Moore and her then husband Grant Tinker seeking a job at their production company, MTM Enterprises.[4] Burrows became a director for MTM Enterprises where he directed episodes of The Mary Tyler Moore Show and The Bob Newhart Show.[4]

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.[4][5] Burrows and the Charles brothers wanted to create a show where they could have more control.[5] Cheers premiered on NBC on September 30, 1982.[5] Although Cheers initially struggled in the ratings, the show became a hit, running 275 episodes over eleven seasons.[5] Burrows directed all but thirty-five of those 275 episodes.[4]

Other Shows[edit]

Burrows has directed for many shows, including:

Additionally, by 2012 Burrows had directed over 50 pilots for television shows.[6]

In Front of the Camera[edit]

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.[7] 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.


Over the course of his career, Burrows has been nominated for fifteen Directors Guild of America awards, and for an Emmy Award every year between 1980 and 2005, excluding 1997. Burrows has won ten Emmy Awards and four Directors Guild of America Awards.[8] The Academy of Television Arts and Sciences celebrated Burrow's forty-year career by hosting a panel in his honor on October 7, 2013.[8]


  1. ^ Stated in interview on Inside the Actors Studio
  2. ^ James Burrows Biography (1940-)
  3. ^ The Deadline Team (4 December 2014). "James Burrows & Robert Butler To Receive DGA Lifetime Achievement Award For Television". Deadline. Retrieved 17 July 2015. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f Rosenberg, Howard (Summer 2007). "The Jimmy Show". Directors Guild of America. Retrieved 2 August 2015. 
  5. ^ a b c d Raftery, Brian (2012). ""The Best TV Show That's Ever Been"". GQ. Retrieved 2 August 2015. 
  6. ^ Ulaby, Neda (4 September 2012). "Making A Comedy Pilot? You Might Want To Call James Burrows". NPR. Retrieved 17 July 2015. 
  7. ^ Martel, Ned (29 September 2005). "Time to Pause the Laugh Track". New York Times. Retrieved 17 July 2015. 
  8. ^ a b Tepper, Allegra (8 October 2013). "Director James Burrows Feted by TV Academy". Variety. Retrieved 17 July 2015. 

External links[edit]