Emmys writers & directors: Helmer’s POV – James Burrows

20 nominations (his most recent being in 2000 for "Will & Grace"), five wins (his last coming for "Frasier" in 1994)

Inspirations: “For me they were shows that broke the mold: ‘Taxi’ was the first sitcom to use a four-camera (setup) instead of three-camera. ‘Sports Night’ used a movie camera and ‘Malcolm in the Middle’ uses wide-angle lenses and other visual tricks. You can do a lot with the camera, but if you’re not telling the story, forget it. The camera is a device to tell the story. I’m not a one-camera guy.”

Influences: “Jay Sandrich, who was my mentor, and John Rich. Both are a lot like me in that they’re people who are not only concerned with where the actors move, but what they say, how they feel and what story you’re trying to tell. I thought Bill Persky was very good, too. Today the writer is so powerful they hire directors who won’t get in their way.”

Moments: “Many of them were combined with great writing moments. When the Rev. Jim said to the cast of ‘Taxi,’ ‘What does a yellow light mean?’ It was written twice into the script. I used it about six times. And there was David Schwimmer and the cat on the terrace of ‘Friends’ in the blackout show in the first season. He’s about to ask Rachel to go out with him and he wrestles with the cat and we see it from inside. I told him, you just keep going. Those were two of the biggest laughs I’ve ever seen.

“My proudest moment is ‘Cheers,’ because it’s the one I co-created: There was Diane’s perfect date, the kiss at the end of the first year; Woody and Sam trying to get a kiss from Rebecca; and, of course, the last show. Maybe my best work was Woody’s wedding. It’s the time I worked the hardest. It was a one-hour show. Half of the first hour was in the bar and then we moved it to a kitchen — an outrageous farce. I rehearsed the actors more than I ever had and it was so great.”

Want to read more articles like this one? SUBSCRIBE TO VARIETY TODAY.
Post A Comment 0

Leave a Reply

No Comments

Comments are moderated. They may be edited for clarity and reprinting in whole or in part in Variety publications.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

More TV News from Variety

Loading