Barry Sonnenfeld blows the bank on his new television show.
Overgrowth: Pushing Daisies is considered one of ABC's bright hopes for the fall season. It's a show about a guy who can bring back the dead with his touch, and it's tracking nicely with audiences in the buildup to its Oct. 3 debut.
Director Barry Sonnenfeld didn't create the series—Bryan Fuller did—but in a July interview with the New York Times, Fuller called Sonnenfeld a "crucial partner" in setting the show's tone and its colorful, stylized look. And Sonnenfeld remains as executive producer. What's less clear is whether he'll direct future episodes.
Fact is Sonnenfeld went so far over budget on the first episode that Warner blew a gasket and Sonnenfeld's role as director was curtailed. The studio isn't talking.
"He was going for a lot of stuff in the first episode to continue the look of the pilot and it went over," says a source sympathetic to Sonnenfeld, adding that Warner TV chief Peter Roth "overreacted and handled it badly." Roth, he continues, is an emotional fellow whose nickname in the industry is "the hugger." Our source adds: "Five days before the blowup on this thing he was hugging and kissing Barry Sonnenfeld and calling him the best director he ever worked with. The extremes of it are ridiculous."
This insider says the two have made some sort of peace, but it seems doubtful that Sonnenfeld will direct the show again.
Sonnenfeld, whose successful films include Men in Black and The Addams Family, tells us he'll "probably direct some future episodes down the road" but not just now, because he's very busy—taking his child to boarding school, giving a speech. Another source on the show also says Sonnenfeld isn't directing now because he's very busy, but in this version he's occupied with other television pilots (and, in fact, he is working on two).
Whatever is keeping him busy, Sonnenfeld says he's still very involved with the show. "I need to become rich so I can buy another plane," he says. He used to have one, he says, but a string of failed movies clipped his wings. Getting Pushing Daisies into syndication is his best shot at escaping the tedium of commercial flights.
Sept. 5, 2007
The Unforgiven: So far, the critics are loving the Western 3:10 to Yuma, which opens this weekend and stars Russell Crowe and Christian Bale. Lionsgate plans to present it as the first Oscar contender of the fall. But the movie has generated as many fisticuffs off-screen as on—and, according to several sources, key talent on the film fears that Lionsgate may have shot itself in the foot by releasing it now.
Things apparently got so sour that there were vying parties after the film's premiere—one thrown by financier Ryan Cavanaugh at Los Angeles restaurant Ago, and the other at Crowe's digs at the Beverly Hills Hotel.
Kim Masters is an NPR correspondent and the author of The Keys to the Kingdom: The Rise of Michael Eisner and the Fall of Everyone Else.
Photograph of Russell Crowe by Patrick Riviere/Getty Images.Photograph of Dominick Dunne by Evan Agostini/Getty Images. Photograph of J.K. Rowling by Evan Agostini/Getty Images.