How do you honor somebody who has helped shape the careers of hundreds, entertained millions and directed thousands of TV episodes? Why with a star-studded TV special of course. On Sunday, Feb. 21, NBC will air Must See TV: An All-Star Tribute to James Burrows, a special honoring director James Burrows who recently directed his milestone 1,000th TV episode.
Carrie Preston was in that episode. The Good Wife Emmy winner stars opposite Patrick Warburton in NBC's upcoming comedy Crowded. Their finale was Burrows' 1,000th episode. A blizzard kept Preston from attending the Must See TV taping, but she had her own moment with the legendary director.
"I was so disappointed because obviously I love Jimmy Burrows and we had a great experience working with him doing 13 episodes," she said. "We got to be a part of television history. I don't think there's anyone else out there who has directed 1,000 episodes of anything, so everybody made a big deal out of it. We also kind of got to be a part of something really special for him. We had a very intimate celebration. His family was there, we just did it on set."
At the intimate party, Burrows and members of his crew, some of which have been working with him for 30 years, Preston said, gave speeches.
"I felt very honored to be in the room with someone like that," she said. "Although I didn't get to be there for the televised celebration of his career, I was grateful that I got to be there in an even more special way, to be in his 1,000th episode."
Preston got to work with another legend on Crowded: Betty White. The TV icon will appear in an upcoming episode of the NBC comedy and Preston said she was just in awe of the actress' skills. White attracted a huge crowd for her table read, Preston said, and entertained everybody.
"She came in and sat down at the table read and the first line out of her mouth was just a home run. She was like that the whole time. She was cracking jokes when we had the audience there. She's cracking jokes between takes! It was just really inspiring so see somebody's who was just shy of 94 years old that is still so much enjoying the work and so on top of her craft at that age. It was just really inspiring."
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Especially so for Preston, who also steps behind the camera to direct and write projects.
"She was like the original hyphenate. She was producing and had her own show and was acting and creating things for herself from the very beginning and the very beginning of television," Preston said. "That's very exciting as someone who is a hyphenate myself who is always wanting to be creative in whatever capacity I can, she is a living example of that."
Must See TV: An All-Star Tribute to James Burrows airs Sunday, Feb. 21 at 9 p.m. on NBC. Crowded debuts on Tuesday, March 15 at 10 p.m. before moving to its regular timeslot on Sunday, March 20 at 9:30 p.m.
(E! and NBC are both part of the NBCUniversal family.)