Jane Pauley wants you to know that her new “CBS Sunday Morning”, “Forever Young: Searching For The Fountain of Youth,” is not about plastic surgery.
“This isn’t an hour about famous people who are astonishingly beautiful and successful even though they are,” said Pauley, 71. “I think this program is full of good ideas for living and provocative ideas that make you think, ‘I don’t want that,’ ‘I hope that happens,’ ‘That’s not for me.’
“The idea was to take the age-old quest for eternal youth and look at it from a lot of different angles … whether it’s in the animal kingdom — the tortoise who’s 189 and his eyes only recent developed cataracts … or a tree that’s 5,000 years old and was young when the Pyramids were being built.”
“Forever Young,” airing Sunday (Nov. 28) at 10 p.m., also includes interviews with Candice Bergen, 75, and Billy Crystal, 73, who talk aging in the youth-obsessed world of Hollywood.
“Candice Bergen puts it beautifully,” Pauley said. “She said, ‘I wanted to get older with credibility.’ She’s completely candid about demonstrating the wattle on her neck, why she wears turtlenecks, the chasms above her lips. She confesses that turning 75 hit her like a ‘clunk.’ It was rough, it was a big deal … and she’s still kind of dealing with that.
“I think these two Hollywood celebrities are uniquely comfortable in their skin,” she said. “I don’t think you could cast a real wide net over Hollywood and find a lot of people who would talk about this.”
The special takes a look at how scientists are exploring ways in which people could live longer — and how humans will, one day, be able to “live” forever, virtually, through avatars and artificial intelligence.
“Scientists wonder why there are people who seem to age differently than the rest of us, who avoid diseases and get to be very old,” Pauley said. “There are spots around the world that seem to favor unusually old age. We go to Sardinia where living to be 100 is almost commonplace. What is it about that little island? What makes it so favorable?”
Pauley said the special struck home on a personal level.
“There are people who prepare, very quickly upon their demise, to be frozen in the hope and expectation that someday their lives will be re-animated,” she said. “I could think of a thousand reasons why I wouldn’t want to do that, but some people find great comfort in the possibility. I wonder what giant steps I would have to take to turn back the clock at this point in life. There’s a voice inside my head that says, ‘Well, you stopped smoking a long time ago.’
“We explore why women do definitively, as a category, live longer than men and the reason, I fear, may not apply to me,” she said. “I’m pretty sure my husband [Garry Trudeau] will outlive me because how women emotionally and culturally and genetically handle stress might be one of the factors [to living longer] — and I don’t handle it so well, so I might not individually be a beneficiary.
“Only time will tell, I guess.”
Pauley said that she asked Bergen if she felt her life was getting “smaller” with age — and that she was surprised at her answer.
“She immediately said ‘Yes,’ but then went on to say, ‘But it’s more focused and less scattered. I’m focused on what’s in front of me.’
“I thought that, with the Thanksgiving weekend, I’m focused on what’s in front of me [and] the priority in my life now, which is family and grandchildren.
“And what better thing to focus on,” she said. “It strikes me as maybe not ‘smaller’ — but richer and more important.”
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