january 15 Carl Gottlieb: Producer-director-screenwriter Carl Gottlieb has a wheelbarrow full of TV and film credits, but movie buffs will be forever grateful to him for writing the screenplay to Jaws, one of the greatest suspense movies ever made. That was when Steven Spielberg was a hungry, 27-year-old filmmaker, not the spinner of bloated historical lessons we suffer through today. By that time, Gottlieb had already worked with another legendary maverick, Robert Altman (M*A*S*H), and written and directed episodes of The Bob Newhart Show. He also directed Caveman, starring Ringo Starr, which brings to mind that Nietzschean bromide: "Whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger." Along the way, he's picked up an Oscar nomination and the kind of weary, too-long-in-the-loop sense of humor that young screenwriters lap up. That's the target audience the Dallas Screenwriter's Association has in mind; they're the ones who are importing Gottlieb to discuss his eclectic career. But the event is open to anyone with a 10-spot and a love of '70s popular culture. The event happens at 7 p.m. at the Adams Mark Hotel, 400 N. Olive. Admission is $10. Call (214) 922-7829.
We Have Come This Far by Faith: Although it's unquestionable that the church played a vital role in keeping the African-American community cohesive from the post-Civil War era through the civil rights era, one wonders what its effect might be as American blacks gain economic and political clout. The preaching delivered to generations of blacks has generally been predicated on "the meek shall inherit the earth," a favorite Christian paradigm that in part underlies Martin Luther King Jr.'s philosophy of civil disobedience--and that was, in turn, radically departed from by Nation of Islam leaders. But will the meek inherit CEO positions and great seats at Ranger games? Has the church lingered too long over the notion of African-Americans as "a people set free," thereby emphasizing former slave status? Such questions aren't frivolous in this pivotal time in the community's history. Consider them when you see the Black Dallas Remembered Inc. show We Have Come This Far by Faith, an exhibition of text and photos on black America's relationship to the church. It shows through January 28 in the lobby of Dallas City Hall, 1500 Marilla St. Call (214) 333-0983.
ID Day: Say your cat dug up something in the abandoned lot across from your apartment that looks really old and either man-made or at least bizarrely geometric for an organic object. Or you uncovered a piece of rock that's either a fossilized vertebra or the corner of some kid's tennis shoe imprinted in last year's wet cement. Do you risk humiliation and incur out-of-pocket expenses to fly to some archaeological center, or do you brood alone at night, wondering if you lost a wing at the Smithsonian by not taking this dusty find to the proper authorities. The Dallas Museum of Natural History brings the authorities to you in one of its most popular annual events. "ID Day" is sort of like an archaeological version of those antique appraisal days, when more than 50 specialists in myriad fields of natural history come to look over your U.N.H.O. (Unidentified Natural History Object). The same experts will be bringing some of the most notable curiosities from their fields for you to salivate over. Events happen 11 a.m.-4 p.m. at the Dallas Museum of Natural History in Fair Park. Tickets are $2.50-$4. Call (214) 421-3466.
14th Annual KidFilm Festival: We hate to dump all over those oft-repeated cries from adult advocates for quality children's programming, but here's the bitter truth: Children's programming is smarter and more imaginative today than it ever has been; indeed, the best movies and TV for kids often beat out the best offered to adults. Check out anything from James and the Giant Peach to Matilda to TV's Tiny Toons to even supposed junk like Rocco's Modern World, and you'll find a level of cultural savvy that Seinfeld lost years ago. The reason movies such as A Little Princess and The Secret Garden fail with child audiences is not that they suck, or children are stupid: They're films about childhood aimed at adults. The 14th Annual KidFilm Festival bounces around to offer its usual trail-mix of new prestige films and cool old junk. Included in the two-day festival are the world premiere of Tsui Hark's new animated feature, A Chinese Ghost Story; a sneak preview of the new adaptation of Mary Norton's The Borrowers; and classic revivals of Mary Poppins and The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T. Screenings happen January 17 and 18, from noon to early evening at the AMC Glen Lakes, 9450 N. Central. Tickets are $3 per program for kids and adults. Call (214) 821-NEWS.
Golden Rod Puppets: We're used to epic expressions of the human imagination involving hundreds of people a la James and the Giant Peach and whatever multi-million-dollar animated bile Disney has coughed up for this summer's release. With puppetry, the discipline of live performance meets a purer expression of the imagination than regular theater artists can conjure. For 17 years, Hobey Ford has been designing, building, and doing sets and voices for puppets that have earned acclaim across North America. They've appeared everywhere from MTV to PBS. Hobey comes to the Plano ArtCentre to perform World Tales, a multimedia puppet adventure that explores myths from around the world. The performance happens at 2 p.m. at the ArtCentre Theatre, 1028 E. 15th Place. Tickets are $6. Call (972) 423-7809.