Tony Bennett, Mel Brooks, Kirk Douglas, Carl Reiner, Norman Lear, Stan Lee, Betty White and Dick Van Dyke — these are just some of the people interviewed for If You’re Not In the Obit, Eat Breakfast, a new documentary from producer George Shapiro and director Danny Gold that will bow June 5 on HBO.
The film is a celebration of the vitality of those people who are going strong after age 90. Brooks is 90; Van Dyke 91; Lear, who will appear at Deadline’s Contenders Emmys event on Sunday, is 94; White, who published her most recent book at age 89, is 95; Lee is 94; and Douglas is their elder at 100.
“Every morning before having breakfast, I pick up my newspaper, get the obituary section and see if I’m listed,” comedy legend Carl Reiner said in making this announcement. “If I’m not, I’ll have my breakfast.” Together with his nephew Shapiro, they ventured out to find out the secret as to why some people live and thrive. “Was it luck, genes, modern medicine or are we doing something right?,” asks Reiner.
“I was inspired by Carl, Norman Lear and (the late) Betty Seinfeld,” Shapiro told Deadline. “Jerry Seinfeld’s mom was so vivacious, and she was always having fun and laughing all the way into her 99th year. We have her in the documentary at the age of 97 dancing with her boyfriend, 92. She was 95 and he was 90 when they met. Dick Van Dyke is still dancing, and Mel Brooks is still touring. It’s all so amazing.”
Reiner hosts the documentary as they track down a host of both celebs and others who reveal that the later years of life can be the most rewarding. The film’s opening title song, “The Best Is Yet to Come,” is performed by Bennett, 90, and the original song “Just Getting Started” is co-written and performed by Alan Bergman, 90.
In the docu, icons Brooks, Lear and Reiner reminisce about their history together as friends and collaborators. All three still have active careers: Reiner has published several books since turning 90, with the latest, Too Busy to Die, scheduled for this spring; Brooks performs all over the country; and Lear continues to executive produce new TV series, such as Netflix’s re-imagined One Day at a Time.
Reiner also visits Van Dyke, whom he describes as “the most agile human being I’ve ever seen in my life.” Van Dyke recounts that after being asked to write a book about aging, he joked that his advice would be very short: “Keep moving.”
Patricia Morison, 101, an actress and singer, notes that “life is the main gift that we have, and if you’re still here, eat it up.” Douglas chats with Reiner in the documentary about the stroke that left him unable to speak and the subsequent one-man show he undertook, with his wife’s encouragement, to prove he could still function.
Also interviewed for the documentary is Harriette Thompson, 93, the oldest woman to run and finish a marathon; Ida Keeling, 101, who says she “would never consider myself old” and works out for an hour every day; Tao Porchon-Lynch, a 98-year-old yoga teacher who marched with Gandhi and recently took up tango; and Jim “Pee Wee” Martin, 95, who fought in D-Day and still parachutes. “To me, vitality is doing whatever you want, no matter what the clock says,” he tells Reiner.
Admirers from the younger set featured in the documentary include comedian Seinfeld, who’s already reserved the stage at Caesars Palace for his 100th birthday.
The documentary is a production of Shapiro/West Production in association with Gold Entertainment. It was executive produced by Aimee Hyatt and the late Howard West. It was written by Gold and Michael Mayhew.