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James Burrows Shares His Secrets From Four Decades of TV Directing

17 February 2016 10:00 AM, PST | Variety - TV News | See recent Variety - TV News news »

It’s often said in television that nobody knows what makes a hit. But that’s not entirely true. James Burrows has a test that has rarely failed him in his 40-plus years of directing multicamera comedy series.

When working on pilots, Burrows likes to bring in an audience to watch a bare-bones run-through after a few days of rehearsal. No amount of focus-group testing of the finished product can tell him more than the first impression of an impartial crowd.

“For most of my hits, those run-throughs have been through the roof,” Burrows says. “That’s how I gauge the show. I see if they like the characters and the actors they don’t know. That’s how you know what you have.”

Burrows’ track record speaks for itself — from his start as a director in 1974 on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” to “Cheers,” “Friends” and “The Big Bang Theory, »

- Cynthia Littleton

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