Ousted Viacom CEO Tom Freston and Ariana Huffington moments before Freston got angry over photos taken by FishbowlNY.
Ex-Viacom CEO Tom Freston invited us — and a couple hundred other media-leaning Manhattanites and power players — to his posh Upper East Side apartment on Saturday night to fete Huffington Post founder Arianna Huffington‘s On Becoming Fearless, her 11th book. It was a typically fine New York celebration, marked by elements commonly found at any gathering worthy of the city’s high-profile socialites: A buzzy guestlist. Town cars. Gossip columnists. Bloggers. White wine. Tall, well-dressed — and well-scented — women. Patrick McMullan. Humidity.
It was packed. We were in his library. We admired Freston’s books, his odd collection of Mao trinkets, to-do lists and how his desk was an arm’s length from his wetbar. We took some photos.
That’s when Tom Freston got mad.
“What are you doing? Who are you with?” Freston asked.
We told him, and offered our business card.
“Why are you taking pictures of my house?” Freston continued.
“Ambience,” we said.
“I don’t understand,” Freston said. “I thought this was going to be a party for few of Arianna’s friends.”
It was, we said. We were her friends. So were the “2,000″ other people Huffington invited, as Lynn de Rothschild, the party’s co-host, said. She was only half-kidding. We told him we were cleared to take photos when we arrived. We offered our card again. He wouldn’t take it.
“So you come in here and take pictures of my house!?!” Freston stammered. Things were getting heated. His famous eyebrows were turning against us.
We apologized, but we were just doing our job, we said. Freston seethed.
We went to retrieve our bag. Freston followed us. We headed downstairs. He watched.
One of the party’s organizers stopped us as we entered the foyer. “You should probably leave,” she said apologetically. We know, we said.
We walked outside, noting of the irony of being forced out of a party by a guy who had been forced out of his job as the CEO of Viacom. We kind of felt bad for him.
We were also hungry. We walked south towards Midtown. We ducked into Nello for a late dinner. Saturday Night Live‘s newly-installed head writer Seth Meyers was at the next table. We introduced ourselves.
Mind if we take a picture?
Said Meyers: “No, man, go for it.”