Jim Burrows

Jim Burrows began learning the ropes of directing and producing shows as a child, the son of a famed Tony-award winning playwright.

"I got into the business because my father was in the business," the top Hollywood director recalled of his earlier experiences on stage assisting his father, Abe Burrows, who wrote the Broadway hit "Guys and Dolls," among many other musical and literary hits.

After graduating from Oberlin College and Yale School of Drama, Jim began what has become an extraordinary career in comedy — as both a director and producer with his list of sitcom achievements including work with "The Mary Tyler Moore Show," "Frasier," "Friends" and "Will & Grace."

He began work on his first show — "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" — in 1974.

At the time, he said, "It was pretty scary because it was a No. 1 show."

But, through hard work and solid comedic instincts, Burrows's first shot at a sitcom was a success and it has continued ever since.

Now at the top of the Hollywood scene after decades of building credibility and working with countless shows and actors, Burrows considers "Cheers" to be his greatest feat, a show he helped create, becoming a backbone of its development and success.

Though he once got involved in film, Burrows said his heart will always be with comedy.

"I only do film in front of a live audience. It's the theater in me … and that's where I get my thrills."

Through the years, the sitcom legend tried to carefully balance his success in the spotlight with the private life he shared with his wife and children.

That's why, he said, his beautifully renovated lakefront camp in Lake Placid is one of his choice retreats in the summer.

As an eight-year summer resident, Burrows said he enjoys the idyllic scenery and North Country charm that gives him a chance to unwind from the fast-paced world of Los Angeles, where he spends much of his time directing about 25 sitcoms and pilot shows a year.

"We love the lake and we love you people," Burrows said Saturday morning between bursts of laughter at the Lake Placid Institute for the Arts and Humanities' Adirondack Roundtable Series.

"And it's really important that our family has this time because we are very private."

As he enjoys his mini vacation in the Northeast, Burrow is looking forward to what he hopes is his next hit show, "Mike and Molly," which is set to hit area TV screens this fall at 9:30 p.m. Mondays on CBS.

The renowned producer, known as "The Spielberg of Sitcoms," was the second guest speaker for the roundtable series, following last week's event with actor Chris Noth, who's most notably known for his roles in "Law and Order" and "Sex in the City."

John Cooney, a former Wall Street Journal reporter, editor and foreign correspondent, will be the third guest, taking the stage Saturday, July 17.

E-mail Andrea VanValkenburg at: avanvalkenburg


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