By Adele Chapin Posted November 16, 2009, 12:48 PM EST
MSNBC and Rodale co-hosted a cocktail party celebrating wildlife expert and Food Network host Jeff Corwin’s new documentary and book about the plight of endangered species. Held at the Occidental Restaurant Thursday night, the event drew in approximately 200 guests, including conservation activist Laura Turner Seydel, administration officials, and representatives from the Smithsonian, Discovery, and Planet Green.
Corwin’s documentary, Future Earth: 100 Heartbeats, will be screened in New York prior to its November 22 airdate as part of NBC Universal’s Green Week, but Corwin chose to hold the launch party for both the book, 100 Heartbeats, and the documentary in Washington, because of his friendship with Occidental assistant manager Lawrence von Weigel, and the city's central role the environmental movement.
“We wanted to go to D.C. to get people in congressional environmental committees and in big wildlife groups that are based out of D.C., like the World Wildlife Fund and Defenders of Wildlife, involved, to make it easier for them to come,” said Weesie Vieira, who works in media relations for MSNBC and coordinated the event.
Everything on the menu—from Gruet champagne to deviled quail eggs—was either sustainable or organic. All the food and wine was also donated. “It shows that we feel very strongly for the cause and for the environment of these endangered animals,” von Weigel said.
The party resembled a wine tasting, as guests sampled organic offerings from wineries such as Kendall Jackson and Yealands Estates. Snacks from the Occidental kitchen included crab cakes and goat cheese wrapped in prosciutto, while representatives from Ayrshire Farms in Upperville, Virginia, dished out plates of piping hot turkey and humanely raised veal.
Held in the ornate Monument Room, which is decorated with the Occidental’s signature portraits of famous and historical figures, the event also expanded into the next-door Truman Bar, which housed a red carpet for photo ops. MSNBC created signage to place around the venue, such as posters with sponsors’ logos and a photo of Corwin holding an endangered snow leopard.
Corwin arrived around 8:45 p.m., fresh from a speaking engagement at the Smithsonian, and took the podium at 9 p.m. to welcome guests and thank everyone involved in the projects. Next up was a 10-minute clip from the documentary, showing Corwin's attempts to tranquilize white rhinos in order to move them to a new habitat. After the promo ended, the flat screen continued to show images of endangered animals such as orangutans and cheetahs, as waiters brought out trays of chocolates and guests lined up to get their copies of the book signed by Corwin.