BIRD ON THE BARBED WIRE: The Oscar-winning animator Nick Park is set to make his first full-length feature for Aardman Animations. Park and Aardman co-owner will direct Chicken Run, a tale of imprisoned chickens heroically attempting to escape from their farm. The claymation film is expected to be a fond tribute to that hackneyed old genre, the POW camp escape flick, but whether Chicken Run will do for coq au vin what Babe did for bacon sandwiches remains to be seen.

And, of course, a film about chickens by Nick Park suggests that we haven't seen the last of that international master of disguise, Feathers McGraw ...

TAKE/OFF: Is it a flighty rumour? A juicy bit of Internet misinformation? No, it really is a new Superman film. Apparently. Warner Brothers have dithered over giving the project the go-ahead, but the word is that Tim Burton - who whipped Batman into shape in 1989 - will ease Nicolas Cage into the tights for Superman Lives.

THE LORD EXPECTS ... With Chasing Amy rounding off his New Jersey trilogy on a high note, Kevin Smith is casting for his next film, DOGMA.

The US indie director will have to do without his first choice God, however, as Emma Thompson is having a baby. The theological comedy's biblical revisionism doesn't stop with a female Creator. Plenty of people claim - as DOGMA will - that Jesus was black, but it's a fair bet you didn't know that the Son of God had a difficult adolescence, and brothers and sisters.

STERN ADMONITION: As usual, the announcement this week of 1998's Oscar nominations brought howls of dismay and squeals of delight in equal measure.

For one disgruntled fan however, the omission of his hero from the Academy's roll call was too much to bear. "What about Howard Stern?" cried Larry Rose, reacting badly to the news that the New York shock-jock had failed to make the Best Actor short list for his tour-de-force self-portrayal in Private Parts.

Rose went on to interrupt the Best Actress announcements with loud protests, before he was kicked out of the Academy's Beverly Hills HQ. "I think it's a travesty, and it is anti-Semitic that Stern is not nominated," Rose added later. "They escorted me out before the Best Picture was announced. Did Howard make it for Best Picture?"

Not quite. The 18th Annual Golden Raspberry Awards did honour Stern in their nominations, however - he's up for Worst New Star.

Mike Higgins

Comments