A standing-room only crowd erupted frequently in laughter during an October talk delivered by Jim Burrows '62. Best known as the cocreator, executive producer, and director of Cheers, the 11-season mega-hit and the most nominated series in the Television Academy's history, Burrows was on campus to inaugurate the Robert S. Danforth Lectureship Series.
During his stay Burrows met twice with students--once with a group studying in the theater and dance department and once with anyone interested in learning more about careers in television or just hearing what he had to say about his own work. That meeting was held in the College's television studio in the Seeley G. Mudd Learning Center. Looking around, Burrows broke the ice by remarking in his understated manner, "I'm glad to see that Oberlin has moved into things like television, because TV has sure been good to me."
Burrows noted that not all television is good television, calling the medium a "venue of imitation" wherein exists "very little innovation." And he conceded that he is one of the few in the business who can successfully challenge that prevailing sentiment. Still, he maintains that "there is a place for artistic work in TV," asserting that television affords one of the best opportunities to do sophisticated comedy.
Asked a number of times what advice he would give to someone considering directing or acting as a career, Burrows repeatedly answered, "persistence." He urged aspiring directors, actors, and writers to seize every chance to practice their craft, including graduate studies. "If you want to be an actor, you must act. . . . Persistence will open door, but make sure you can deliver once you get that foot in the door."
Recipient of the 1996 American Comedy Awards' Creative Achievement Award, Burrows has been dividing his time among three new half-hour comedies--Men Behaving Badly, Pearl, and Chicago Sons. If scheduling permits, he directs episodes of Frasier, Friends, News Radio, and Third Rock From the Sun.
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