Last night the Discovery Channel’s “Life,” the sequel, of sorts, to “Planet Earth,” premiered in New York.
After introductory remarks by David M. Zaslav, CEO of Discovery Communications — “the #1 nonfiction media company!” A declaration made more than once! — and executive producer Mike Gunton, the screening of episode one, “Challenges of Life,” commenced, with the score played live onstage by the New York Pops. The series, narrated by Oprah Winfrey, is breathtakingly shot, with eye-popping, nearly trippy close-ups of participants like the stalk-eyed fly, whose transformation after emergence from the pupa puts any Hollywood CGI shenanigans to shame. There was a somewhat comical hippo fight, a segment featuring the adorable and wily Capuchin monkeys demonstrating their palm-nut-cracking technique, and a pair of Western Grebes, birds who express their monogamy through a graceful, kabuki-like dance of mirrored movements.
The Challenges of life, then? Survival! Eating, fighting, and mating. All in service of the continuation of the species. An aspect of struggle that was taking place in the foyer of Alice Tully Hall after the screening. The line for food was unruly, and there was an immediate run on sliders, almost souring the vibe of the post-show reception. The particular breed of celebrity know as the Reality Television Star (or is it Nonfiction Media Star?), they who comprise a fair portion of the entertainment programming on Discovery’s networks, mingled amongst the executives and series sponsors, gamely answering questions from reporters. Kate Gosselin, with her DWTS partner in tow, was the center of much of the attention, her hair looking like a spun sugar confection. The other species native to cable television and the red carpet included a Real Housewife of New York, a Cake Boss, the Cash Cabbie, and Shorty Rossi, the Pit Boss, with his adorable, slightly bored-looking companion animal Hercules.
Author Josh Kilmer Purcell of “The Fabulous Beekman Boys”— the show about the upstate farm and “lifestyle brand” he runs with his partner Dr. Brent Ridge–was there looking dapper.
It was easy to miss Glenn Close, standing alone eating her burger, tiny and immaculate in a black pantsuit, but the cameras eventually found her, too.
After dessert the herd had thinned, and when the lights were brought up to full, the beasts of the party were gamely ushered out, the struggles for dominance, the mating rituals having been kept mostly in check. (Though it is possible those urges were gratified at whatever after-event media types and cable executives are wont to converge upon.)
“Life” premieres on the Discovery Channel on March 21. [Photo via Discovery Channel]