“Pushing Daisies”: Pushing Sonnenfeld?

Daisies_2TV execs continue to buzz over the departure of Barry Sonnenfeld from directing the first several episodes of “Pushing Daisies” (by far the best-reviewed new show of the fall).

Sonnenfeld directed the pilot — lauded for its unique, colorful look (a purposeful contrast to some of the show’s darker themes) — and its first regular episode, and was on tap to direct several more.

But after a run-in with producer Warner Bros. TV, which grew leery of cost overruns on the skein’s first post-pilot seg (which wound up an extra three days in production — not unheard of for a new show), Sonnenfeld was asked not to return for the second post-pilot episode.

Insiders said Warner Bros. TV eventually reversed course and asked Sonnenfeld to helm upcoming episodes — but because time had elapsed (and the show went dark a week in order to get a jump on writing), the director was no longer available.

But Sonnenfeld continues as an executive producer, and he told Variety that he’s still spending a “minimum of two hours a day on the show.”

“I’m reading scripts, looking at visual effects and emailing the performers at least three times a week on their acting,” he said. “I love the show and I wish I were available to direct more episodes… if we stay on Sonnenfeldpd_2 long enough, I can’t wait to direct more.”

For now, Sonnenfeld (pictured right) remains busy expanding his TV resume. He’s directing the Fox pilot “Hackett,” which goes into production this Friday, and is also in pre-production on a legal thriller with scribe Luke Reiter at NBC (through Universal Media Studios). He’s also got an the hour-long fantasy entry “Kingdom” with Chad Hodge in the works CBS (along with Sony), and has at least two other projects percolating as well. As a result, the earliest he can next direct a seg of “Pushing Daisies” is February, Sonnenfeld said.

Meanwhile, creator Bryan Fuller, who dreamt up the fantastical world of a pie maker who can bring people back to life with the touch of a finger — but can send them six feet under with a second tap — remains in charge.

“I love Bryan Fuller and ABC, and want to make sure I can do everything possible to make it a success,” Sonnenfeld said.

Despite the behind-the-scenes drama, “Pushing Daisies” continues to score high praise — and the backing of a hefty marketing campaign by ABC. Show bows Wednesday, Oct. 3, at 8 p.m.

— MICHAEL SCHNEIDER

(Sonnenfeld pic by Jean Baptiste Lacroix/WireImage.com)

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