The Date: March 14, 2007
The Venue: American Museum of Natural History, New York
The Crowd: Seemingly every staff member from Discovery's 13 ad-supported cable networks; staffers from major Discovery ad clients such as Bank of America and Proctor & Gamble; several stars of "Law & Order" (including Richard Belzer and Christopher Meloni); and, reportedly, Martha Stewart.
The Food: A choice of two meats -- grilled salmon for the pescatarians and heartier braised short ribs for the real carnivores. Dessert was served after the hourlong screening.
The Drinks: An open bar stocked with perhaps the most unique drink Freeloader has ever sipped -- a "polar bear-tini." The Citron-and-tonic drink bubbled and smoked thanks to an authentically Arctic cube of dry ice dropped in the middle of the glass.
For a TV event five years in the making, Discovery's "Planet Earth" miniseries certainly premiered with a big splash -- almost literally -- in the aquatic section of the American Museum of Natural History. The museum's giant humpback whale unofficially presided over the proceedings of Discovery's decadent bash. (The network has held upfront events at the venue in the past.) It's not every cable net that can shut down entire wings of a national museum to host 800 clients, staffers and celebrities, after all. It was kind of like "Night at the Museum," only with new Discovery CEO David Zaslav in the Ben Stiller role and a merciful absence of Robin Williams and Owen Wilson as historical figures come to life.
Freeloader, for one, has never been big on taxidermy, but when you're sipping martinis that literally have smoke pouring out of them as you stare a stuffed blowfish in the face, you make exceptions. Particularly when said martini-sipping includes surprise spottings of two of our favorite "Law & Order" actors -- Richard Belzer and Christopher Meloni (we love you, Stabler, but tell your platinum-haired wife to pursue a new 'do).
Rumor had it Martha Stewart was scheduled to make an appearance, though Freeloader had to duck out before we could have a run-in with the Queen of All Media. (We probably would've had a more luck chatting up that aforementioned blowfish anyway.)
That also meant we had to miss the unveiling of the first footage from "Planet Earth." But considering the 11-hour miniseries has an $18 million ad campaign behind it -- encapsulating everything from video screens on bus shelters to Bank of America receipts to retailers such as Best Buy and Circuit City -- we're not likely to forget to tune in when it premieres at the end of the month.