ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Only on the "CBS This Morning" podcast, award-winning actor, writer, and director Alan Alda discusses his Parkinson's diagnosis and the response he has received since revealing the personal news on the "CBS This Morning" broadcast. Talking with CBS News' Jamie Wax, he shares how exercising is helping delay some of the symptoms and his hope of eliminating the stigma surrounding Parkinson's disease. Alda also discusses his new podcast - "Clear and Vivid" - and why focusing on the things we have in common can help us communicate better each other. He explains why he's decided to focus on communication, which he says is at the core of connecting with others.
English
United States

TRANSCRIPT

00:00:00why cast of CBS this morning we'll begin after this short break this episode of the CBS this morning podcast is sponsored by a game flings gains the biggest and best sent experience in the smallest form these amazing three in one game flings are easy to use laundry packs
00:00:17that give the ultimate gain sent experience with the cleaning power of oxy boost and for breeze leaving your clothes wonderfully fresh with an irresistible sent that's love at first sniff keep away from children I'm John Dickerson until Monday okay and I'm Nora o'donnell and this is the CBS
00:00:38this morning podcast hello I'm CBS news correspondent Jamie wax and this is the CBS this morning podcast with me today is a very special guest they say don't meet your heroes I'm completely ruining that guns are what is out of this man needs no introduction but I'll give
00:00:58you a brief one anyway he is one of the world's favorite writers directors actors activist authors Alan Alda how bout that alliteration did you enjoy a very nice a lot of bass and there it is such a pleasure to talk with you today thank you then I'm looking
00:01:14forward to this are we are going to so far it's going well it's beautiful right now right get along swimmingly we are going to talk about a lot of things including your new venture which is a podcast called clear and vivid and what you're sort of chasing after
00:01:29I feel like all of your projects are are chasing after making a concept reel for you from your books to your films and I'm really interested in what you're chasing with a podcast but you know it's funny you bring up movies I've written and that kind of thing
00:01:44because the I guess they're all tied together with the same thread now that you mention is which is what is the humanity in it I'm really interested in the people in the story and I'm interested in what connects people how we how we relate to one another how
00:02:05we relate to one another at one another in a way that's more positive and productive then then misunderstanding each other or fighting with each other making war with each other not including people who don't seem to share anything with you that kind of the way how do we
00:02:24get out of that and that's with the whole podcast is about it's about relating in communicating and and it's too distant very much like what we're doing now which is through conversation it's not didactic it's not even though I talked to some scientists I talk to them about
00:02:40their personal experience is as much as I can because everything at its root is driven by some humanity or need to connect I I think so I mean we're we're interesting animals and we don't understand ourselves very well and we we spend a lot of I tell it
00:02:58we will we constantly think we understand ourselves we don't you brought a lot of understanding today this day were talking about up by making an announcement of the fact that three year in three and a half years ago you were diagnosed with Parkinson's disease you made that announcement
00:03:17on our broadcast on CBS this morning how has the response been in the hours since and what made you decide to do that the responses been wonderful it's been very warm and most people who overwhelmingly get why I did it which was in the store I was I
00:03:39started to notice that I had a twitch in my thumb and it was beginning to show in some shots when it was on television I've been on television a lot the last couple weeks talking about my new podcast show when I look at the video of those interviews
00:03:56and I I see the the thumb moving in the corner of the screen I think I'm not the only one who sees that pretty soon somebody's going to write about it and probably in a way that is going to be productive it'll be some sad more big story
00:04:13in that awful and that's really not my story I'm I'm very interested in what goes into overcoming is many of the symptoms as I can I don't have many symptoms and not severe now but I'm I know it's a progressive disease where your balance is affected sometimes your
00:04:34voice is affected you do your body becomes a little more stiff your face gets flat in the a expression and and those things tend to grow but exercise especially the right kinds of exercise can really make you hold off the worst of the symptoms and it's worth going
00:05:03to the trouble because you feel and look and function so much better me without doing it it's hard to button your shirt tail to fasten your cuffs hard to put on your pants if you're if you wear pants a without the tipping over you know but a villa
00:05:23for the last four days later I happened to have been the stood next to anything for fear I might tip a little because I'm getting I'm getting relief from some of the minor symptoms but that's part of your message to others part of my ability to use yet
00:05:39thanks for bringing me back to my main part of my messages there's a stigma attached to Parkinson's partly because we're very aware of the the really I'm happy situation that some people are in in the very advanced stages and we think of that has Parkinson's but Parkinson starts
00:06:03with almost like something that's something that's almost imperceptible or might actually be imperceptible because by the time you show symptoms of a lot of your brain has been affected already so before you see symptoms hearing you well into the the progress of the disease but if you undergo
00:06:29the right kind of exercise and other kinds of treatment of possibly a a mild hill you can hold off the severe symptoms for a long time my heart goes out to people who are now suffering the severe symptoms to them and to their families because it's really tough
00:06:48but those of us who recently have got a diagnosis should not delay doing something keeping moving and keeping moving in the most positive productive ways for this illness because you can do you can see the worst symptoms arriving sooner if you don't do it you could there are
00:07:08people who can last for years and years without having symptoms they get in the way of their lives but because there's a stigma attached to it Donnelly don't they do that they try to hide the the tremor or fake fake good balance in or you know you get
00:07:29up out of a chair and started to impose LOL boy this floor is sticky I'm I'm sure I can hear you making some of those jokes but you have let your your fame your voice to bringing attention and money to a lot of causes that are close to
00:07:46you over the course of your life and your career is this something you you wanna help shine a light on in a bigger way as well I am already committed to communicating science to communicating among people I think what I did today was help shine the light on
00:08:08Parkinson's in a way that was helpful for now Hannah I can't take on another project they can't take on another mission so I don't think you'll see me talking about Parkinson's much in because they have other things I have to do but on the podcast on clear and
00:08:30vivid I would like to follow up on what I won under the news I broke today about my own life and more importantly about everybody else's life about how it's important to think about what you can do to make it better and that's really a question of communication
00:08:53and families helping helping one another come to a decision about doing something even if it means admitting to friends and relatives that you have a problem it may be that some people aren't even going to group classes to take good exercise because they have to admit they're walking
00:09:13into a room with other Parkinson's patients and that may be keeping them from something that's possibly going to save them so I think I'd like to follow up with a good conversation on the podcast but I do I I don't think you see me talk it's not it's
00:09:33not going to become Michael as you know Michael fox is doing a wonderful job with that indeed in fact a lot of the things that probably go into your early treatment have %HESITATION have been brought to light by yes garbage that's true you are talking right now about
00:09:48pushing through in a positive way when you get distressing news or a new challenge that is one of those threads we were talking about in the beginning of your books of of much of your work but also of this new podcast clear and vivid is sort of trying
00:10:04to find the positives in the ways of of connecting with people are you talk a lot with people about their process is about their backgrounds a lot of things that that many of us who are lucky enough to interview people are are fascinated with but you go about
00:10:18it in a very interesting way that you say is rooted sort of in your art in Europe that you have a very much so because just as an actor %HESITATION without any training I might've had they had very little training and if you have a background as an
00:10:34actor so as I'm sure you know what I'm talking about then you can't play is seen on stage with another actor unless you relating to the actor in the most subtle and true way you have to observe what they're doing you have to respond to what's really coming
00:10:52off them a little look in the eye a certain way the word comes out of them at the end of the sentence what is that mean this time when he's saying that some little hostility and that what is that and if you don't hear it you can't respond
00:11:08to it with your line of the lines are written there just like the notes on a piece of music of written there but that doesn't mean it's played the same way every time they were little subtle things that make it come alive and that's relating that does that
00:11:25and then when I studied improvisation which is the best way to learn about relating I really show what's possible and that's why when we teach science is that the all the center for communicating science when we teach side is we start with improvisation exercise is not to make
00:11:44them funny or make them actors but to make them able better to relate to the other participant and then eventually when they get accustomed to that when they turn to the audience and talk to them they're talking to real people they're not talking over their head that not
00:12:01talking to an imaginary line is when you standing there facing real people why would you talk to an imaginary doesn't make sense but the audience is scared speakers very often or they they think if I do it the way I've prepared it if I say the things that
00:12:20I know make up the best way to say this then I'm communicating but you're not really communicating unless the people listening to you are getting it in if if you've got the best way to say it but you're not relating to people when you say it's not going
00:12:37to get it it's a very subtle thing and you can vote arrive at the best way to formulate your message if you keep in mind who you're talking to and what effect it's going to have on the moment by moment do you think the fact that there is
00:12:52so much noise and information and technology coming at us in today's age has made it harder to really connect with people with a message that you're trying to put out I don't know a lot of people say that I went to one of the people in Ghana telecom
00:13:07and %HESITATION talk with on the podcast is somebody who says you should I think he said something like you should throw your phone in the toilet I've accidentally done that but that's what days of my life you took the first step of the revolution but I hate I
00:13:24know the literally says that but it's something like that he wants to close down the people's wants people to close down their access to social media because he thinks it's hurting him up I'm really interested to hear what he has to say I suspect some times that it
00:13:41may be our reaction to this new wave of technology that **** as maybe like a reaction to other waves of technology people were afraid when we watch television would fry our brains Gutenberg was thought two would not do a good thing by some people because even before Gutenberg
00:14:04the Greek some Greeks were afraid of books because that kept your memory inactive if you could look at a book you didn't need to remember everything %HESITATION cars when cars came out I remember reading an old statement that the human body was not made to go seventy miles
00:14:24an hour all your organs will flattened against your spine and kill you has or will it will if we tend to be afraid of anything new so may it may not be so bad what we're pretty adaptable you've chosen an interesting group of people to speak to in
00:14:41the early part of your podcast Sarah Silverman among them its act Perlman what what is the common thread between the guests get I don't think of them on the same although they are two of my favorite personally my favorite people I've ever it got an interview for CBS
00:14:55news me too but what is that thread the thread is people with interesting stories about how they've related to or failed to relate or tried to relate to another person am through the hearing this story and through my probing a little bit what we can learn from that
00:15:13it's often funny he sometimes touching a people are writing me telling me that they cried during this era Silberman interview because she's very honest and she tells the truth and the judge Judy very thoughtful not the same person you expect to hear I will tell you to hear
00:15:35judge Judy speak to Alan Alda this is not the judge Judy you know yeah it's wonderful I mean you see another side of all these people which is another really interesting and entertaining aspect of it because I'm not asking them how did you get famous I'm a man
00:15:51I wanna know as they're interesting people and I wanna know as people how they function in what they've learned about these do about this particular problem which which is how do we get along with one another you know I it's it's a it's a joke but if if
00:16:09the pope married mother Theresa they'd still have a hard time communicating especially with the rest of the Catholic Church playing a lot you may be able to change the wording of this you must be a great communicator yourself first of all just to talk to you can feel
00:16:29it you can feel humanity just how do you like better read to wear but but let's talk about this because you have you've done something every people in show business out of show business are are chasing their whole lives a lot of us which is you've been married
00:16:45for over sixty years yeah like thirty one years I don't think this is so unusual in show business we still have our best friends who were married just over sixty years one sixty five years and they'd still be married with one of them died do you think that's
00:17:02a bad that's it a negative stereotype about show business idea and having a successful election might guess is I can't prove this but my guess is when somebody in show business was already famous and the subject of people's fantasies in which is in that kind of thing when
00:17:18they get divorced it's automatically knows when the president of General Motors gets divorced I don't think it even makes the paper so I mean there's a little bit though it's not it's skewed a little bit toward paying attention to the things that the you know that make them
00:17:35sound more important than they are what about changing times for that kind of commitment that kind of relationship you raise three daughters you have eight grandchildren I believe yeah watching them go through relationships up has has it changed is it more difficult to find that kind of lasting
00:17:53commitment the thing that hasn't changed is when people go through the teenage years their minds are controlled from outer space that hasn't changed in the probably hasn't changed since before the Greeks but the I I hope to live a long time I picked up a hundred and six
00:18:16as my date tonight along a live and I think a short short changed myself I think you did yeah because of longevity experts tell me at one point probably nobody who's alive today will do this but people will live routinely to two hundred and two fifty but I
00:18:35would like to live a long time but I don't want to go to another generation of adolescents that's the downside here just for a teenager a move to France for live somewhere far I loved him all my teenage children and grandchildren but it's really hard work for everybody
00:18:55especially the teen they have it the hardest I had a hard time you probably had a hard time I did and I I have two kids who've gone through it yeah come out great people yeah they do come back I do they go away and around the nine
00:19:10a no nice getting younger and younger but like twelve next they tend to come back around at nineteen when you look at at these changes in in the generations that we're talking about certainly part of what must a motivated you to try and discuss how we can get
00:19:28along to our differences as is the current political climate you've never shied away from politics even when it cost you some things career wise personally seems like a I mean the the difficult times you went through politically seem like a a wonderful fantasy land compare to the possibility
00:19:44that we might you know people don't even there many people young people I say young I mean people in their twenties and thirties who don't really remember what the equal rights amendment was about and I took ten years when I wasn't when I wasn't working in front of
00:20:02the camera was out trying to get the equal rights amendment ratified in if state after state when I was young I worked really really hard alongside many other people who are working very hard on it but that's that's history now to me was you ill couple years ago
00:20:21but it has the same relevance has so many things in history that have a name and nobody really remembers what it was so I exchange then I've mainly tried to concentrate on making a contribution in ways that I really know what I'm doing that that I've that I've
00:20:45tried worked all my life to learn added due to to write to act and you know for twenty five years now I've been seriously trying to figure out what makes good conversation Natalie conversation with communication because the twenty five years ago I started doing Scientific American frontiers which
00:21:04was a short interviewed hundreds of scientists and when that was over I thought you know this conversational approach we have which is like improvising is probably the way we can help scientists communicate about their work better than they do now and the whole economy will improve science will
00:21:24improve our lives will improve so that's when I started working on helping train signs is to communicate better and all this part of the same thing that I wrote a book about it and now we're doing the podcast so did the this is even though it sounds odd
00:21:42that an actor or writer is doing something like this it really is part of what I've been preparing for any grows out of all the other things I've done all my life in hell acting improvising that I see that is the core the the connection to the other
00:22:00person to me is the core of communication it's not making things up in your head that you spray it people and it's up to them to get it or not it's your willingness to get where they are in their head so do you really have a channel between
00:22:19you the to open and part of the point that you've made many times and what you said and what you do and what you've written is that there's gotta be empathy and openness vulnerability on both sides for that communication to happen deeply yeah right I'd I think if
00:22:37you are aware of what the other person is going through and if you want to stand with their perspective is which is roughly what empathy is not feeling sorry for them of that or having compassion it's just having a good estimate of what's going on in their head
00:22:55if you have that you're in a much better position to communicate with them and if you don't have it you're in a worse position you know you don't know who you're talking to when we talk about this idea of openness vulnerability communication in the political realm I have
00:23:10to bring up the piece of work that you did that I recently saw again I I absolutely love this film it's hard for me to believe it's almost forty years old the seduction of Joe Taino which you wrote and starred alongside Meryl Streep in nineteen seventy nine here
00:23:26and it was very prescient of a lot of things in the current political climate that I don't know were true necessarily in ninety seven things really happened and and were disowned by the people they have to were you disowned as well it's funny the the guy who ran
00:23:46universal at the time said you can't call it the senator because everybody will know which the senator who's done those things and I didn't I didn't think that they would call attention anybody in particular so I had to call it something else but it's hard to believe the
00:24:02themes of that film how much more prevalent they are in today's political machine if you really think about the idea of hidden agendas and people using dirt on each other to really get their way and things that are short sighted and heard other people in lose their vision
00:24:19lose what their bases all about those things are really really powerful in today's world yen and it may be that they've always been that way except it's more extreme now it seems I mean I I hear from politicians eleven and I I want to talk to people who
00:24:33have experience in this on on my pipe case because I want to hear if it's one here with the details are about this of how they used to go out have to work after yelling at each other on the Senate floor they'd go out and have a beer
00:24:49together and talk about their families and get to know one another even though they were on opposite sides now they demonizing each other it's I think it's very hard to find people who are really at the extreme ends who are even interested in thinking of the other person
00:25:08as a fellow human with good instincts you know you can you can you can have the desire to make the country better and be told in total disagreement about how to go about it but you can therefore respect one another's impulses but that's kinda lacking those I'd like
00:25:27to know why in what could be done to bring it back one of the interesting questions that many people have been asking is is there a line where civility has to end where where something is so foreign to what you believe or you see something as so hurtful
00:25:44a trend is there a point to stop being civil here where it won another way of saying it I guess is where where does talking stop and fighting Startin I've never liked the idea of fighting words you know if you say that word that's a fighting words and
00:26:02now I get the right to punch in the nose in words or words intent ads and who was what we were talking about before tens of acting intent makes a word that could be neutral or even a kind word could turn it into a fighting word by the
00:26:24way you say and I understand that but what I don't understand is a word itself being something worth fighting over and for some people we know words like a single payer are fighting words what what's meant by it what what how could people get together over an idea
00:26:50there are so many ways to divide up a pie what inside if you've gotten while you're talking to these people that you've spoken to on your podcast so far as to where we might go with that when people have words that divide I think that everybody tends to
00:27:07be drawn into the idea in different ways in different ways of expressing it then we there is there are things that we share in common and when we get to those things that we share in common very often we find it's easier to do to discuss things to
00:27:30talk about things George Mitchell the former senator who brought peace to Northern Ireland did it in a way that has been repeated in other other circumstances that really worked he he had two warring sides that have been killing each other for decades they discuss things at a conference
00:27:53table during the day but at night for at least a week they came to his house had dinner and we're not allowed to talk business couldn't scream at each other exactly can only talk about their families or their childhood experiences in the next day was a little harder
00:28:11for them to yell at each other because they saw a person there that they hadn't seen before before they just saw the stereotype of the enemy well seeing our mutual commonality with people we think are uneducated or stupid or eighty eight Sir it's it's a lot easier to
00:28:34see you know I could have made the same mistake or I'd have made the same mistake on my side of the fence and now maybe it's time for us to think together LBJ was probably full of baloney sometimes when he said let's let's sit down and reason together
00:28:54I mean that meant let's reason while I hold my fingers around your neck that's right then why I'm right here right but there's something really good to be said for that idea yeah and I see that coming up of very often in my conversations on of clear and
00:29:12vivid did I see people finding something common between them in another person that makes it a lot easier to have a talk you don't always agree you don't have to agree nobody can agree with anybody else totally they used to be a wonderful exercise in improvising two people
00:29:32are at a table together they're having lunch and their job is they must agree on everything that comes up in conversation and he gets hilarious because if they're really honest with themselves they can't agree totally and the weasel around trying to agree it's really interesting we we have
00:29:52this tendency to see the the wrong side of what the other person said it's kind of it's kind of interesting to explore well do you remember the the exercise you make me think about an acting classes were called open scenes are blank scenes well me about designed to
00:30:06recognize and you would learn innocuous dialogue everyone would come to class with it memorized hi hello how are you fine was last night okay yes and then either different ways you would decide what the relationship was and what the what the conflict to and then you play the
00:30:21same place scene and it was one of the most it would change completely based on the suggestions sometimes to be a secret suggestion the class had to figure out and as you say you do realize when you study human beings for for your art or for your work
00:30:36that it's not our words really is it it's it is our intention yeah energy that we bring to the conversation either as a listener anon listener or communicate that's a great exercise is funny I almost did that with writing a series it was really hard to get a
00:30:51script out every week and one of the actors kept complaining to me it is why do you put the stage directions and he says laughing or he picks up the glass as well because if the final put in a says laughing you're liable to think I mean something
00:31:05else he's in the don't do it I'm an actor I can come up with my own behavior so I wanted to write a scene with no directions whatsoever that says things like why are you holding that I let him come up with like him let's begin well what
00:31:24would you like to speak with you I one last thing I would ask you since we are on this incredible day for you where millions of people are discovering they have something in common with you with the the the diagnosis of Parkinson's disease and all of the the
00:31:37ways that you have been living with it were there any responses in the past few hours since you share this news with the world at that really touched you or that you would want to share I. been charged over and over it's really wonderful thing that touches me
00:31:51the most is that people get what I meant it wasn't about me I didn't want to make an announcement about myself I did get a little benefit from that I did get the benefit of not having to keep it a secret worry about whether people were reading my
00:32:09body in figuring it out or gossiping among themselves and that got that benefit but that wasn't the main reason the main thing to do was to let people know that they can get out there and keep moving and exercise and take on a program of of movement that
00:32:30holds off the worst symptoms for a long time in some cases a really long time that's what I wanted to tell people because I know what it's like to think well what difference will it make it makes a big difference and I wanted to communicate that I liked
00:32:47and I I have been very touched and I was touched by my own children and grand children who one of my granddaughters and I'm proud of you in and so did one of my grandsons and it made me really feel like a million Bucks well I tell you
00:33:04I think you keep moving at eighty two more than most of us did you see my tweet were of the juggling yes I did is that very impressive if you don't follow Alan Alda on social media by the way it's very very enlightening and hope filled if you
00:33:19need a break from from the despair that we all feel sometimes in the world and the sense that none of us will really connect on on a deep level follow Alan Alda get a little hope and especially listen to his brand new venture his new podcast clear and
00:33:35vivid it's a pleasure to sit and talk with you thank you so much and you remind me that it not only is the show entertaining clear and vivid but all of the revenue that comes and goes to the center for communicating science and yes it's her so just
00:33:51by listening to it you're helping science communication there you go whose listen who knew this is such a good idea that he had well thank you so much thank on talking with thank you for listening you can watch the full CBS this morning broadcast Monday through Saturday from
00:34:08seven AM to nine AM on your local CBS station for you can stream it live on the CBS all access at

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Start your day with award-winning co-hosts Norah O’Donnell, Gayle King and John Dickerson in Studio 57 as they, along with CBS News correspondents around the world, bring you the most important headlines, intelligent conversations and world-class original reporting from around the world.
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