Yes, comedian Ali Wentworth is turning into her mother.
“She’s not as out there as I am,” Wentworth told us about her mom, Muffie Brandon Cabot, Washington hostess, former White House social secretary and font of pithy one-liners. “But I definitely have her values and morals, even though I talk a funny game.”
Mom was the inspiration for Wentworth’s new comic memoir, “Ali in Wonderland.” The prospect of the book had Cabot, 76, deeply nervous, but no worries: “I’m not writing a tell-all book in any way. I said to my mother, ‘It’s a real love letter to you.’ ”
Wentworth, 47, grew up in D.C.’s upper crust: Her mother worked for Nancy Reagan; her stepfather, Henry Brandon, was chief diplomatic correspondent for London’s Sunday Times. Henry Kissinger hung out in their swimming pool.
She rebelled — by becoming an actress, with stints on “In Living Color“ and as Jerry Seinfeld’s girlfriend on the “Soup Nazi” episode. Her book recounts bumps along the way — we’ll call them rich-girl problems — solved by therapy and stays at the Four Seasons.
Love brought her back to Washington when she married George Stephanopoulos in 2001. No juicy gossip about him, either: “I’m madly in love with him. I can’t believe my luck.”
Raising two young daughters here, Wentworth found she didn’t like D.C. much better than when she was a kid. “When George and I would go out, I felt like I had nothing to offer. My insights on fiscal responsibility — I mean, who cares? But what I started to realize is that people find it a great relief not to talk about this stuff.”
Like Donald Rumsfeld, for example, who was tickled to show off his prized dachshunds to her at a Christmas party. Like a good social secretary’s daughter, Wentworth decided to give him a book about the breed as a thank-you — which, she recounts in the memoir, she tossed over the gate of his home. Armed guards surrounded her immediately; the book was hauled off for inspection. Naive? Sure, but “at least he received a handwritten note and a thoughtful and personal gift the next day.”
The family’s now living in New York, for her husband’s anchor gig on “Good Morning America.” She’s doing a little acting, with a new webcast launching on Yahoo Wednesday. She also emceed a White House event for Michelle Obama last year. Hmm, could we be talking to a future White House social secretary?
“I remember how stressed out my mother was,” she said. “I don’t think I could handle it. I would make a hundred mistakes a day. ”