Who Ali Wentworth
New gig Host and executive producer of relaunching Daily Shot on Yahoo
Old gig Star of Starz’ Head Case; co-host of Living It Up! With Ali and Jack; Sheila (“Schmoopie”) on Seinfeld
What’s going to be different about Daily Shot when it returns to Yahoo on March 4?
When we started doing Daily Shot, we were trying to figure it out [along the way]. Disney and Yahoo were initially partnering on it, but now it’s all Yahoo, which is a little bit easier. I want it to be a little more irreverent and funny; otherwise you could get Marie Osmond or Lisa Rinna to do it. We’re trying to make it “The earliest late-night talk show around” and make it a little more entertaining. At the beginning we played with talking about topical news, which attracts older people. They’re not going to come to me for topical news. Then it was skewed toward giving women quick bites about what’s going on in the world. But that changed quickly, because I thought, I wouldn’t go to me for topical news.
When Jon Stewart’s Daily Show started, people might have thought the same thing.
That’s a great example, except that I don’t want to do news. What we’re trying to do now is more of the entertaining style, pop culture, why are women waxing their vaginas completely kind of thing. I’d like to talk in a more candid way about some of the things that are done in a really fluffy way in morning TV. We were just discussing all the women’s magazines that say, “This is what men want in a woman!” And it’s all bullshit. No, this is what they want—let’s be perfectly honest.
They want shaved vaginas. Obviously I want to incorporate some of my own personal stories.
Does having Yahoo as your sole proprietor make it easier for you to stretch the limits?
With Disney there are certain places you cannot go. I don’t want this to be The Hangover. But I’d like to be able to not feel completely restricted. Would I rather have a show on Showtime or Nickelodeon? Probably Showtime.
You probably watch more Nickelodeon anyway, with two young daughters, right?
You would think so, but no. My girls have very sophisticated tastes. My 7-year-old wants to watch The Mindy Project and Modern Family. My 10-year-old loves Revenge, about [people in] the Hamptons murdering each other and having affairs. They don’t care about iCarly and all those shows. By the way, I’m happy about that. It used to be The Brady Bunch had a moral—now, everything is about getting famous.
Given your Washington background, how much did you help husband George Stephanopoulos navigate those waters when you met?
The irony is, George is the one who was always saying to me, “You can’t say that, don’t do that!” One of the first weeks we were living back in Washington —I hadn’t been there since I was 13—we were going to some big, snotty party, and I put on a dress. He said, “You can’t wear that—you look like a hooker.” But in L.A. that would’ve been perfectly reasonable. My favorite George line was when we were going into another party: “Don’t say anything about anything!” One of the most difficult challenges at the beginning with my marriage was, I was so used to being outspoken, and George’s job was to spin-doctor people’s images. And he’s a very private person. At the beginning it was tough because he’d say, “Why are you opening your trap and saying that?” Or I’d make jokes at press conferences and the press would take a quote of mine and embellish it or make it about George. Those were our growing pains at first.
How has comedy changed over the years, where improv is now de rigueur?
Improv is starting to be a trait that most directors are looking for. You can have a funny actor come in and do the scripted stuff. But when they say, “Let’s do a second take and just have fun, be crazy,” a lot of people freeze up and can’t do it. A lot of the jobs I’ve gotten were when I screen-tested and they let me do that. Sometimes it’s heartbreaking when you do that in the audition and they don’t hire you but you see your bit show up in the movie anyway.