The unenlightened may consider them slow and gray and lumpy, but to those who really love Florida, there's nothing more beautiful than manatees. In downtown Crystal River, folks will celebrate the endangered sirenians at the Florida Manatee Festival from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and noon to 4 p.m. Sunday. The festival features kids' activities, crafts, entertainment, eats and slow boat tours of Kings Bay, prime sea cow habitat. Call (352) 795-3149.
WILL THE SENATOR YIELD?
An idealistic young man becomes a U.S. senator and courageously stands up to pervasive corruption in the nation's capital. Do you suppose it's happening in Washington today, as the 109th Congress assembles for its first session? As if. Try James Stewart in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, showing at 3 p.m. Sunday in the splendor of the Tampa Theatre. Director Frank Capra's inspirational fable earned 11 Oscar nominations in 1940, and won for best original story.
January brings network TV's first clutch of new midseason series, and we're underwhelmed. Tonight at 10, NBC's Medium appears, starring Patricia Arquette as a woman who lands a job based on her ability to talk to dead people. Tuesday at 9:30 p.m., NBC rolls out Committed, starring Josh Cooke and Jennifer Finnigan as "brilliant yet neurotic Nate" and "eccentric yet eternally upbeat Marni" (according to NBC.com), whose romance proceeds despite such believable obstacles as a "dying clown" living in Marni's closet. Maybe when the clown dies, Arquette's character can do a crossover cameo.
NOT SO VICTORIAN
In the Everything Old Is New Again Department, on Wednesday the FSU/Asolo Conservatory for Actor Training in Sarasota opens Boston Marriage. David Mamet's biting comedy of manners is about a Victorian-era lesbian couple _ the title is 19th century slang for such a relationship _ and their complicated lives. The play continues through Jan. 23; call toll-free 1-800-361-8388 or go to www.asolo.org for tickets.
Love him tender or not, Elvis Presley began to rock the world when he crooned That's All Right into a microphone at Sun Records in 1954. If he had downed fewer of those peanut-butter-and-banana sandwiches fried in butter, he might be around Saturday to celebrate his 70th birthday. Of course, a lot of folks believe he will be. Lesser rock royalty marking birthdays this week: Michael Stipe will be 45 on Tuesday; David Bowie will be 58 on Saturday; Dave Matthews turns 38 on Sunday.
By COLETTE BANCROFT, Times staff writer
(727) 893-8435 or bancroftsptimes.com