Lisa Ling takes the cake at National Geographic 'Explorer: 25 Years' party

lisa-ling-national-geographic-explorer-25-years-320.jpgHow does Lisa Ling celebrate the 25th anniversary of National Geographic's "Explorer" series? By wielding a knife.

The journalist was on hand Tuesday night (April 13) in Washington, DC to cut a special globe-shaped cake in honor of the award-winning documentary series' milestone anniversary, and Zap2it was lucky enough to be invited for the fun.

First, guests enjoyed a screening at National Geographic headquarters highlighting the upcoming "Explorer: 25 Years" special that will air Monday, April 19 at 9 p.m. ET/PT and then joined Ling for champagne toasts, lobster filo triangles, chicken satays and other assorted nibbles.

Ling, who's hosted the series since 2002, was in good spirits at the party, having mini reunions with cast and crew that worked on "Explorer" with her. She pointed to "China's Lost Girls" -- which featured American families as they traveled to China to meet their adopted daughters for the first time -- as the special that had one of the most profound impacts on her.

"It was one of the most emotional experiences of my life as I witnessed firsthand China's gender gap, its roots and its possible repercussions; but it was also the most remarkable," said Ling. "I saw the joy of these growing families and also saw these girls -- once the most rejected members of Chinese society -- just quintessentially with the lottery in becoming part of new families that only want to show them love."

She joined National Geographic Channel's executive VP of content Steve Burns (left) and Michael Rosenfeld, president of National Geographic Television, for the cake-cutting honors and photo op. 

national-geographic-explorer-25-years-party-500.jpgThe pastry was part yellow cake, part chocolate and was adorned with images from "Explorer."

national-geographic-explorer-25-years-cake-500.jpgIn addition, red velvet cupcakes made to look like a map of the world (not quite current day, but well past Pangaea) were served.

national-geographic-explorer-cupcake-500x200.jpgAlso seen and/or heard at the NatGeo party:

  • "Real Housewives of DC" party crasher alert! Okay, we're not talking about the Salahis, but a tall blonde who looked suspiciously like one of the DC housewives set the room abuzz. She chatted and posed for photos with various guests -- none of whom were Joe Biden. Will the pics pop up on Facebook later?
  • Kitty Kelley is still alienating people - No, the notorious Oprah Winfrey biographer wasn't in the house, but a fellow Washington reporter was very vocal about her disdain for Kelly, whom allegedly used information in the Frank Sinatra bio without crediting/compensating the reporter.
  • The late John Hughes' penpal Alison was spotted, but knowing her desire for privacy, we left her alone.
  • Sasquatch-tall Boyd Matson, who has also hosted "Explorer," gave the lowdown on some of the most famous/notorious "Explorer" episodes including the one featuring anthropologist Ken Good who was married one of the indigenous Yanomami when she was just a girl. Disturbing yet fascinating.

"Explorer: 25 Years" highlights the series -- which boasts more than 2,000 films, winning more than 400 awards and visiting more than 120 countries worldwide -- and some of its memorable episodes. These include the first footage of the wreckage of the Titanic, Ling's undercover report from North Korea in 2007, exclusive coverage from inside the detention center in Guantanamo and "Finding the Afghan Girl," the search for the girl with piercing green eyes who appeared on the iconic cover of National Geographic magazine.

Check back with Zap2it for an interview with Lisa Ling and more on "Explorer: 25 Years."

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Related:

'Explorer' times and TV listings
Zap2it's melting pot: Tracing deep ancestry with National Geographic
Zap2it scrapes for DNA with National Geographic

Photo credits: National Geographic Channel/Kris Connor; Zap2it/Hanh Nguyen


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