“Chicken Run” scribe Karey Kirkpatrick will make his live-action directing debut on “Superkid,” a project he’ll script for Deep River Prods. partners David Friendly and Marc Turtletaub. The deal is worth more than $1 million.

In addition to “Chicken Run,” Kirkpatrick has scripted “James and the Giant Peach,” “The Little Vampire” and “Rescuers Down Under.”

“We’ve got Karey in the arena in which he’s most comfortable — films geared to children that are sophisticated enough to keep the whole family interested,” said Turtletaub.

“Superkid” is the first sale Kirkpatrick has made for an idea of his own, which was packaged by William Morris agent David Lubliner.

The deal marks the tenth Deep River has made since opening doors last fall. Turtletaub, Friendly and prexy Julie Durk sparked to the idea, and all three will produce.

“This is a big wish fulfillment kid empowerment movie where a junior high school student is a superhero,” said Kirkpatrick. “It’s an idea that comes from my childhood, wishing I could get some superpowers to use on the guys who were continually kicking my butt.”

Kirkpatrick, now a father of two young kids, will likely be writing kid movies for some time, heading to England this week to work on the next DreamWorks/Aardman claymation pic “Tortoise Vs. Hare,” and rewriting the big ticket DW/Imagine film “Planet Fred,” the story of microscopic aliens who land on the head of a man (Fred), searching for a replacement for their home planet energy source. “That source,” Kirkpatrick informed Dish, “turns out to be snot.”

MGM WARMING TO CHILI: MGM has exercised its option on the Elmore Leonard novel “Be Cool,” and the studio and Jersey Films partners Danny DeVito, Michael Shamberg and Stacey Sher are moving full speed toward a sequel to “Get Shorty.” Despite recent rumors to the contrary, the studio priority is to get John Travolta back as hustler-turned-producer Chili Palmer. “We’ve had only preliminary discussions with Travolta’s agent, but we want to have him back,” said MGM vice chairman/COO Chris McGurk. “We know John’s very interested, he was incredible as Chili Palmer and if you’ve read the second book, you know it’s about Chili getting into the music business. There’s no reason to think he won’t be in it.” Sonnenfeld’s not expected to return, but the project has drawn interest from the likes of “Rush Hour” helmer Brett Ratner.

SECTION EIGHT GOES MOONSHINE ROUTE: Section Eight partners Steven Soderbergh and George Clooney have made a deal at Warner Bros. to develop a feature based on the life story of Garland Bunting, a wily undercover moonshine revenue agent, who became the scourge of bootleggers in North Carolina during the late 1950s. The project was set up with Section Eight by Eat A Peach Pictures, whose Duncan Brantley will write the screenplay. Michael Leeson, who wrote “War of the Roses,” will be creative consultant, while Soderbergh and Clooney will produce and Brantley will exec produce. WB’s Courtenay Valenti will shepherd the project.

Soderbergh took a shine to the moonshine saga when told the story by Brantley, the former Sports Illustrated writer who with SI columnist Rick Reilly wrote “Leatherheads,” the 1920s football comedy which Soderbergh hopes to direct, with Clooney starring at Universal.

“SHREK’S” JENSON EYES LIVE ACTION: After ogling ogres the past two years, “Shrek” codirector Vicky Jenson is ready to try real actors. Jenson has just signed with William Morris’s Todd Feldman and Rob Carlson with the intention of directing a live action feature. Jenson paid her animated dues, doing everything from painting backgrounds for “Smurfs” cartoons to directing “Ren and Stimpy,” and working as story artist for DreamWorks’s “The Road to El Dorado” before sharing with Andrew Adamson codirecting duties on the early summer’s breakout hit “Shrek.”

“I’ve always been interested in the next personal challenge,” said Jenson, whose appetite for live action was whetted by working with voicers Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz and John Lithgow. The logistical challenges of matching Myers and Murphy, whose ogre and donkey play every scene together, were toughest. “They both have great improvisational skills and having them together would have been great, but they recorded their parts separately, sometimes almost a year apart.” She’s lawyered by Nancy Newhouse Porter.

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