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Cheers for James Burrows at Entertainment Division Event

Legendary director James Burrows was our guest star for an inspiring conversation with Danielle Berrin of The Jewish Journal at the latest event in our Federation’s Entertainment Division Up Close & Personal series.  By his own count, Burrows has directed 965 episodes of some of the greatest television shows of all time.

In the course of his illustrious career, Burrows has won 10 Emmy® awards and 4 DGA awards for smash TV comedies including Will & Grace, Friends, Cheers and Taxi. He is currently at the helm of The Millers. Those in attendance were on hand to glean insight and knowledge that would help them take the next step in their own careers. Topics included stories of his big break in directing an episode of the Mary Tyler Moore Show, creating Cheers, choosing the shows he directs, when he knows that a series is going to be a hit and the value he brings to the table as a director. In his words, “I break down the walls between the writers and the actors.” When asked for his advice on making it in the business Burrows said, “It’s easy to get your foot in the door, what matters is whether you are able to capitalize on the opportunity.”

Berrin, who has conducted numerous interviews with entertainment personalities, asked Burrows about his upbringing and he shared personal reflections on what his mother and father taught him. She also asked about his Jewish observances and his trip to Israel this past year which our Federation organized on his behalf. When asked if he considers himself to be a spiritual person, Burrows gave a one-word answer: “no.” He then went on to share that he lights Shabbat candles each week to make sure that he feels a connection to those who came before him throughout the year – not just twice a year during the High Holy Days.  At which point, he classified himself not as spiritual, but admitted to perhaps being “spir.”

Burrows shared his thoughts on what makes something funny. And despite spending four decades behind the camera, Burrows proved to be extremely entertaining in front of it. Check out a few highlights:

Burrows was introduced by YALA Entertainment Co-Chairs Erin O’Brien and David Kelleher, followed by a video showing clips of some of the most memorable moments from the numerous shows he’s directed. After the dialog with Berrin, attendees were able to pick Burrows’ brain in a robust Q&A session. If it’s possible, everyone came away with an even greater appreciation of Burrows, and his profound impact on popular culture for multiple generations.

For more information on our Federation’s Entertainment Division, and involvement opportunities, contact Janet Gilmore, Entertainment Division Director, at (323) 761-8371 or JGilmore@JewishLA.org.

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