Is ''Cheers'' about to say farewell? -- Series creator James Burrows says another season is in the works

After 10 years and 230-plus episodes, is NBC’s Cheers ready to serve its last beers? Not according to series cocreator James Burrows, who says all signs point to an 11th season for the durable comedy. ”We’ve always said we’d stop doing it when it wasn’t fun,” says Burrows, ”and it still is. Most of the cast wants to come back, and we’re in the process of negotiating now.” One holdout may be Woody Harrelson, who has been the subject of conflicting rumors about his willingness to return. This season’s final episode (airing May 14), in which Woody will marry his longtime girlfriend, Kelly, could provide Harrelson with either an easy exit or a new plot line. Burrows doesn’t know whether the episode will end with a cliff-hanger: ”We don’t decide until the last minute,” he says.

If Cheers does return next fall, it will lose the Emmy-winning team of writer-producers who have steered it for the last several years: Phoef Sutton, Cheri Eichen, and Bill Steinkellner have been lured to CBS to create a new fall sitcom for Bob Newhart. ”He’s done The Bob Newhart Show and Newhart, so we’re left with Bob,” jokes Sutton, who says the ensemble comedy’s premise is still being worked out. ”We’ve been fans of his since we were young, and honestly, we sort of thought this would be the last year for Cheers. It’ll be a little strange to turn on the show next season and not be there.” But if negotiations with NBC are successful, Burrows says, the show will go on. ”We’re losing three very good writers, but we’ve made this kind of transition before. We’re durable.”

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