SONNENFELD, BARRY (1953– ), U.S. director-producer. Born in New York City, Sonnenfeld grew up in Washington Heights and attended the High School of Music and Art in Manhattan. He majored in political science at New York University, but completed his senior year at Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts. Following a cross-country trip, Sonnenfeld decided to enroll in nyu's Graduate Institute of Film and Television. He earned money making industrial films, directing commercials, music videos, and X-rated movies. In 1982, Sonnenfeld worked as a cinematographer on the documentaryIn Our Water, which earned an Academy Award nomination. After he met fellow nyu film student Joel *Coen at a party, the two became friends. Sonnenfeld helped Coen raise money for the noir thriller Blood Simple (1984), for which he was the cinematographer. In 1985, he won an Emmy Award for his work on an abc television special, Out of Step. He was the cinematographer for several feature films, including the Coen brothers' Raising Arizona (1987) and Miller's Crossing (1990) and Rob *Reiner's When Harry Met Sally… (1989) and Misery (1990). Sonnenfeld directed The Addams Family (1991), a big-screen adaptation of the 1960s sitcom inspired by Charles Addams' cartoons, which earned more than $110 million, and the sequel, Addams Family Values (1993). He turned down the opportunity to direct Forrest Gump (1994), preferring instead to adapt the Elmore Leonard novel Get Shorty (1995), which earned actor John Travolta a Golden Globe. After directing the quirky sci-fi comedy hit Men in Black (1997), Sonnenfeld began moving into production with two Elmore Leonard projects, television's Maximum Bob (1998) and the Steven *Soderbergh-directed featureOut of Sight (1998). After directing Wild Wild West (1999), a big-budget flop, Sonnenfeld returned to his crime roots directing the Dave Barry comedy Big Trouble (2002) and the sequel to his 1997 hit Men in Black ii (2002). He delved further into Leonard's lead character from Out of Sight with the short-lived television show Karen Sisco (2003). In 2004, he produced the Coen brothers' remake of The Ladykillers and Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events.
[Adam Wills (2nd ed.)]