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  • Directed by James Burrows

  • Five Decades of Stories from the Legendary Director of Taxi, Cheers, Frasier, Friends, Will & Grace, and More
  • By: James Burrows, Eddy Friedfeld
  • Narrated by: James Burrows, Danny Campbell
  • Length: 12 hrs and 18 mins
  • 4.8 out of 5 stars (9 ratings)

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Summary

“Being directed by the Jimmy Burrows, while on Friends, was like hitting the jackpot. I’m delighted that everyone can now share in his incredible insight with this book.”—JENNIFER ANISTON 

From the director of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Taxi, Cheers, Frasier, Friends, and Will & Grace comes an insightful and nostalgic memoir that offers a bounty of behind-the-scenes moments from our favorite shows, peeling away the layers behind how a successful sitcom comes together—and stays that way.

Legendary sitcom director James Burrows has spent five decades making America laugh. Here listeners will find never revealed stories behind the casting of the dozens of great sitcoms he directed, as well as details as to how these memorable shows were created, how they got on the air, and how the cast and crew continued to develop and grow. Burrows also examines his own challenges, career victories, and defeats, and provides advice for aspiring directors, writers, and actors. All this from the man who helped launch the careers of Ted Danson, Kelsey Grammer, Woody Harrelson, Jennifer Aniston, Debra Messing, and Melissa McCarthy, to name a few. 

Burrows talks fondly about the inspiration he found during his childhood and young adult years, including his father, legendary playwright and Broadway director Abe Burrows. From there he goes on to explain his rigorous work ethic, forged in his early years in theater, where he did everything from stage managing to building sets to, finally, directing. Transitioning to television, Burrows locked into a coveted job with The Mary Tyler Moore Show, where he first observed and then started to apply his craft. Directing most of the episodes of Taxi came next, where he worked closely with writers/producers Glen and Les Charles. The three formed a remarkable creative partnership that helped Burrows achieve his much sought-after goal of ownership and agency over a project, which came with the creating and directing of the seminal and beloved hit Cheers. Burrows has directed more than 75 pilots that have gone to series and over a thousand episodes, more than any other director in history.

Directed by James Burrows is a heart-and-soul master class in sitcom, revealing what it truly takes to get a laugh.

©2022 James Burrows and Eddy Friedfeld (P)2022 Random House Audio

What listeners say about Directed by James Burrows

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Behind the scenes of comedy classics

James Burrows worked on pretty much all of the favourite US comedies of the last four decades. He tells us how the came together, how they worked and his own directing techniques. Absorbing. He isn’t a natural narrator, but it’s what he says in his own voice that counts.

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Thank you Mr Burrows

Really interesting. Highly entertaining. Great stories from behind the scenes. Listen as soon as you can.

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  • Maxine
  • 05-07-22

Read like the credits rolling at end of a show

I thought this book would be interesting and funny because a lot of the TV shows were very funny. Sadly this, for me, was not the case. There was an endless listing of names and shows meant to impress the reader but for me, it was just noise. Although I appreciated the “positive” attitude, not everyone and every show could be that sugar coated sweet and wonderful. The people and shows might have changed but each chapter was basically the same. I was disappointed.

4 people found this helpful

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  • DLR
  • 18-07-22

Some Good Material but Quite Repetitive

It's tough to judge who the target audience is for this memoir. Those studying directing? Regular fans of sitcoms? It seems like Burrows tried to please both and, I think, the book suffers somewhat. There are some interesting (and valuable, I'd say) lessons in here about dealing constructively with others in a multi-faceted and fast-paced professional workplace. And, it's probably required reading for those wanting to direct TV. However, for non-directors such as myself, these lessons become repetitive after a few shows' worth of memories. Only the actors/producers/writers change. The latter part of the book about TV camera placement/operation seems an afterthought, from this perspective. It would have been interesting had the book been organized by, perhaps, types of struggles Burrows had to overcome to succeed, rather than organizing it chronologically where, at some point, it starts reading like a victory lap. In the end, I come away thinking Burrows has a lot to say, but his co-author mismanaged how to organize/present it.

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  • AlexBenBlock
  • 08-07-22

Autobiog is Master Class in directing TV Sitcoms

For decades Jim Burrows has been the most in demand director for situation comedy series on American Tv for good reason. His touch and taste has given us Cheers, Friends, Will & Grace, Taxi and many more shows that are part of the fabric of American life. As he nears 80 he is still active but takes time to share his secret sauce. It’s not much of a bio. He grew up in the large shadow of his famous father and worked hard to carve his own career. He has surpassed Abe Burrows in many ways. Much of the book he takes us inside how TV really works and then goes show by show from how it was created to casting and his own significant contributions to the many successes he birthed and nurtured. This is very inside industry. For me it was a treat to hear this master of the sitcom form share his stories of success and failure. For anyone who dreams of directing TV this is a real master class from a real master and a must read.

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  • StevenC
  • 22-06-22

Enjoy this listen!

If you’re a fan of these tv shows you’ll enjoy this audio book. Burrows is a good narrator and his insight and behind the
scenes info is quite funny and interesting.

1 person found this helpful

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  • C
  • 10-09-22

Only part of the story…

James Burrows’ bio is in the category that shares only the positives about events and those the author encounters.

People can be brilliant in their art while uninteresting as authors. The genius Burrows may be a case in point. There’s no drama or conflict. As we know that was not possible- especially in the entertainment industry and especially when big money is involved —as with hits— it comes across as fake and watered down. Kind of like the world as portrayed in the weakest sitcoms.

I don’t know what this book did for the author, but for the reader it’s a missed opportunity to learn about the last era of sitcoms before the streaming world took over, from someone who enjoyed a very special perspective on that world.

Lastly, the inclusion of so much reading from scripts is objectionable.

And as we kn one knows must have been there on that industry and

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  • Justin Love
  • 10-09-22

Amazing Sitcom History

For as much I love comedy and sitcoms, I didn’t know about James Burrows until I heard about his exploits on the Smartless podcast. But once the veil was lifted, you discover this man has been a thread amongst most, if not all, the best sitcoms that sit in your mind and your heart.

Terrific history, terrific stories. I loved that the author narrated the book as he is a bit of a character himself. Keep in mind he’s a director, not an actor: he starts off a bit wooden but his narration loosens up a bit as the book goes on.

Thanks for sharing your history Mr Burrows!!

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  • Tzoner
  • 04-09-22

Loved it!

Such heartfelt and lovely stories about legendary tv shows. A must read for any sitcom fan!

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  • Sandra
  • 25-08-22

a trip down memory lane

I really enjoyed the book. it was fun to hear about the inception of many of my favorite sitcoms and the art and genius behind them. I caught myself laughing out loud as Jim read from the scripts and I was able to picture the episodes. it's a great book for any aspirational theater or TV Director tho read. I found his leadership skills helpful as well. Enjoy !

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  • D. Thomas
  • 19-08-22

A monotonous reading of a pretty good story

James Burrows' work speaks for itself. He has created some of the most iconic and classic television of the last 50 years. Normally, I really enjoy it when an author reads their own book - it lends authenticity to their "voice". In this case however, I believe the reading is in need of - well, a good DIRECTOR! 95% of Mr. Burrows sentences begin on the same pitch, and they end about a perfect fifth lower; regularly. This repetitive, sing-songy delivery is grating, and by about Chapter 7 I wanted to drive off the road into a tree. His performance lacks energy, variety and enthusiasm; he sounds completely bored with his own life story. What was even more shocking was his delivery of the few jokes he tells (i.e., stories with a punch line). NOT GOOD! Should you attempt to excuse his lack of energy by reminding us he is 81 years old, give a listen to Mel Brooks' "All About Me", which he recorded in his NINETIES! The difference is like night and day. The content of this book is interesting, but I strongly recommend you get the print version if you're interested in Mr. Burrows' story. Listening to him read it was a disappointing and tortuous experience.

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  • MicheleC
  • 11-08-22

the shows of my life

if you grew up when there were only 3 channels to watch, then you have seen many of his shows. this is a wonderful ride on memory lane