First-look deal includes network, cable, digital
Barry Sonnenfeld has two series on the air next season, but hungry to do more television, he has signed a new pact with Sony Pictures TV.Sonnenfeld, who directed the pilot of (and will exec produce) the buzzworthy frosh ABC drama “Pushing Daisies,” will now scout out new projects under a first-look deal with Sony that encompasses network, cable and digital. It’s a reunion of sorts, as Sonnenfeld was based at Sony (which then still referred to its small-screen studio as Columbia TriStar TV) at the turn of the decade, exec producing and helming shows such as “The Tick” and the “Fantasy Island” revival. There Sonnenfeld established a relationship with onetime studio chief Eric Tannenbaum. Sonnenfeld recently partnered with Eric and Kim Tannenbaum on the ABC laffer “Notes From the Underbelly,” which returns for a soph cycle next season. With the Tannenbaums moving to Sony earlier this year, Sonnenfeld said he was interested in joining them there. “It’s the same reason I went there many years ago — Eric Tannenbaum,” Sonnenfeld said. “I have a long relationship with Eric and Kim. It’s great to be back at the same studio they are.” Sonnenfeld also cited the influence of two more former Sony TV execs: Sarah Timberman and Carl Beverly, whose 25C shingle is also set up there. Sonnenfeld is set to direct the Fox pilot “Hackett,” which comes from 25C. “To be on the same lot with those folks is great,” said Sonnenfeld, who added that he has “also really enjoyed meeting and talking about the future” with Sony TV production toppers Jamie Erlicht and Zack Van Amburg. “They’re offering me a wonderful opportunity,” he said. “I’m doing for Sony TV both TV stuff — I have a whole bunch of ideas for half-hours and hours — and I also have a lot of ideas for the Internet.” Sonnenfeld said that, as part of his arrangement with Sony, he’ll be focusing a great deal of energy on coming up with programming that works for phones, the Internet and direct-to-DVD. “I’m interested in the future of what happens to all of us because of the Internet,” he said. “I both use it and fear it.” The producer-director — who also cited Sony’s independence, allowing him to sell projects everywhere — said he’ll come armed with several concepts for both TV and online when he meets with Sony execs in the next month. “Barry is a visionary director and producer, and we’re excited about using his talents not only in traditional scripted storytelling but also to branch out into new media in a significant way,” Erlicht said. As part of the new setup, Sonnenfeld said he plans to tap his wife, Susan Ringo, to serve as an associate producer at his new TV setup. “She’s really the brains behind the operation,” he said. “We’ll both be creating ideas.” Meanwhile, this season Sonnenfeld is aboard to direct at least three episodes out of the first 13 “Pushing Daisies” segs for ABC and producer Warner Bros. TV. Sonnenfeld has spent most of his TV time recently at Warners, which is also behind “Notes From the Underbelly.” Sonnenfeld’s TV credits also include “Maximum Bob” and “Secret Agent Man.” His feature directing credits include “RV,” “Men in Black,” “Get Shorty” and “The Addams Family.” Sonnenfeld is repped by CAA.