Welcome to Sonnenfeld's busy world


Two months into his new deal at Sony TV, Barry Sonnenfeld has set up projects at three broadcast networks and has several more lined up on the runway.

The producer-director's TV slate includes an adaptation of the Argentinean drama series "The Pretenders" for Fox, with writer Jorge Zamacona; a superhero family show for ABC with feature writer Peter Steinfeld and Dee Steinfeld; and "My World, and Welcome to It," a comedy at CBS with "Frasier" writer Jay Kogen.

"All the shows have a certain amount of tonal quirkiness to them, which is where I come in," Sonnenfeld said.

In additional to exec producing the projects, Sonnenfeld is planning to direct as many as his feature schedule allows.

"Because all the shows are very tonal specific, the most important job for the producer and the director is to set and maintain the tone," he said.

The format for "Pretenders," about a team of con artists solving ordinary people's problems, was brought to the U.S. in June by Argentine network Telefe. Sonnenfeld quickly came on board and developed an American version with Zamacona before selling it to Fox.

The ABC project, tentatively titled "The Nelsons," is a live-action one-hour in the vein of the Disney/Pixar animated feature "The Incredibles."

"It is a metaphor of what it is like to be a supermom and overworked dad in modern times," Sonnenfeld said of the project, which is co-produced by Sarah Timberman's Sony TV-based 25C Prods.

"My World" is a period family comedy based on humorist James Thurber's collection of essays.

"It's about what it is to be a dad when you're surrounded by a family where you feel like an outsider," Sonnenfeld said of the 1960s-set project. It is being co-produced with Sony TV-based Tantamount, the company of Eric Tannenbaum, Kim Tannenbaum and Mitch Hurwitz.

A sitcom of the same name based on Thurber's book ran on NBC in 1969-70 and earned Emmys for best comedy series and star William Windom.

Also in the hopper for Sonnenfeld are projects based on the books "Things a Man Should Never Do Past 30" and "Are You There, Vodka? It's Me, Chelsea."

"Things" is being written by the book's author, Esquire articles editor David Katz, and Esquire editor at large A.J. Jacobs, with Jay Scherick and David Ronn supervising.

Sonnenfeld also is talking with Chelsea Handler about adapting her book "Vodka."

"I find her smart, funny, witty, sexy and annoying," Sonnenfeld quipped about the comedian/talk show host.

Outside of the deal, Sonnenfeld — repped by WMA and attorneys Melanie Cook and Stephen Espinoza — is prepping the HBO pilot "Suburban Shootout," which he is directing.

He also serves as an exec producer on the ABC/Warner Bros. TV series "Pushing Daisies," for which he won a DGA Award.

On the feature side, the "Men in Black" director recently produced the Disney feature "Enchanted."

Borys Kit contributed to this report.