James Burrows, Robert Butler to Receive First DGA Lifetime Achievement Award for Television

James Burrows - H 2014
AP Images/Invision

James Burrows - H 2014

The new honor was created earlier this year by the DGA , which has given out a similar award for movie work for 61 years

Prolific TV directors James Burrows and Robert Butler will be the first recipients of a new award from the Directors Guild of America: the Lifetime Achievement Award for Distinguished Achievement in Television Direction.

The honors were announced Thursday by DGA president Paris Barclay. The award, created by the DGA board earlier this year, will be presented at the 67th annual awards gala on Feb. 7, 2015, in Los Angeles.

"For those out there who've wondered what kind of impact a television director can have on the medium, Jim Burrows and Bob Butler provide the answers," says Barclay. "That's why we're beyond thrilled to establish a new award and to inaugurate it with two men who have had an incomparable influence over decades of precedent-setting television-directing."

"They've shaped the history of television," continued Barclay, "in ways too numerous to calculate, including directing the pilots for some of the most iconic television shows ever. Jim, who will soon helm his thousandth television episode, remains one of the most in-demand pilot directors in the business, having long since established his deft comedic touch on shows like Taxi, Cheers, Friends, Will & Grace and The Big Bang Theory."

"Bob set the tone and broke the rules on pilots for Hogan's Heroes, Star Trek, Batman, Hill Street Blues and Moonlighting," added Barclay. "Between the two of them, there are very few people in America who haven't laughed, cried and/or cheered while watching their work. They have truly changed the face of television."

The DGA for many years has had a lifetime achievement award for movies, which has been given out only 34 times in the past 61 years. Recipients include Cecil B. DeMille (the first to be honored, in 1953), Frank Capra (1959), Alfred Hitchcock (1968), Stanley Kubrick (1997), Steven Spielberg (2000) and, most recently, Milos Forman (2013).

The new TV honor will be based on nominations from a blue-ribbon committee of DGA members and then approved by past and present DGA presidents.

"I am honored and touched to receive this inaugural DGA lifetime achievement award in television directing," said Burrows. "I'm proud to accept this award in conjunction with Robert Butler, whom I respect for his incredible work in television."

"To be lucky enough to work with great writers and actors is a blessing," said Butler. "But this is unbelievable."

Dec. 4, 5:07 p.m. The DGA has given out a lifetime achievement in movies award for 61 years, not 78 years.