July 3rd, 2008

Since I’ve been here at Thirteen, the idea of getting back to nature has taken on a whole new meaning. Monday night this week, it meant hanging out at the Central Park Zoo with our NATURE series producers and funders, and chatting with actress Gretchen Mol next to the sea lions. The event, a celebration of our upcoming NATURE: American Eagle film (airs November 2008), was hosted by Toyota and Thirteen/WNET New York and generously sponsored by the Condé Nast Media Group.

Neal Shapiro and Gretchen Mol

Over cocktails, a group of a hundred patrons and special guests mingled and took in the oasis that is the Zoo, a real jewel within this bustling big city of ours. We gathered for a few photos with our VIPS, including Neil Retting (filmmaker of American Eagle); Fred Kaufman (Executive Producer of Nature); Stephen Segaller (Thirteen’s V.P. of National Production); Shigeru Hayakawa (President & Chief Operating Officer, Toyota Motors North America); Dian D. Ogilvie (Senior V.P. & Secretary, Toyota); Steven Sturm (Group V.P. of Americas Strategic Research & Planning and Corporate Communications, Toyota) and Thomas Hartman (V.P. Corporate Sales, Condé Nast Media Group).

Talked a bit about parenthood and animals with Gretchen, a new mom and an avid NATURE viewer (she told me she finds the series relaxing), then headed to the ceremony. The crowd was wowed at the amazing film footage screened and the behind-the-scenes stories Neal Rettig shared, and we presented our friends at Toyota with a commemorative photo from the film, signed by the filmmaker. Not even a passing shower dampened the festivities, which included a live performance by One eskimO, the band that does the music in NATURE’s Toyota funding spot.

Neal Shapiro, Shigeru Hayakawa and Fred Kaufman
(both photos: Marion Curtis)

My kind of NATURE experience!