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since 1997 | by maryann johanson

question of the day: What do you think of Kal Penn qutting acting to work for Obama?

Cue the Kumar Goes to the White House jokes. Actor Kal Penn — of Harold & Kumar and House fame — has quit acting, at least for now, to work in Barack Obama’s White House. Penn will work with the arts and Asian-American communities.

(If you want more info on Penn’s departure from House, check out this piece at Entertainment Weekly. But don’t click on this link — don’t even look at the URL — if you don’t want it spoiled. Oh, and don’t click on the EW link in the next paragraph, either.)

Penn, who worked on the Obama campaign, told EW:

I’m going to be the associate director in the White House office of public liaison. They do outreach with the American public and with different organizations. They’re basically the front door of the White House. They take out all of the red tape that falls between the general public and the White House. It’s similar to what I was doing on the campaign.

[P]robably from the time I was a kid, I really enjoyed that balance between the arts and public service. I went to a performing arts high school, but I still took a bunch of those dorky political science classes. It’s probably because of the value system my grandparents instilled in me. They marched with Gandhi in the Indian independence movement, and that was always in the back of my head.

Can you think of another actor who’s done anything so dramatic as quit a hit TV show to take a job in the public sector? Penn’s annual salary is probably now less than what he was making per episode on House. What kind of example is that for a winner-take-all capitalistic culture like ours?

What do you think of Kal Penn qutting acting to work for Obama?

(If you have a suggestion for a QOTD, feel free to email me.)



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  • marshall

    I think it’s pretty cool actually. I remember watching the Dem convention, and suddenly seeing him and I was like, “Hey, that’s Kumar!” It goes to show, atleast some people realize that it’s not all about money, it’s about what you do that matters.

  • Jim Mann

    [HOUSE spoiler — don’t read if you’re not up to date on the show–maj]

    I’ve just been waiting for Fox News to have a headline on the order of: Obama causes young Indian-American doctor to commit suicide.

    Jim

  • ben

    i think whats hes doing is admirable….too bad its for the biggest political hack to sit in the chair since 1979…..

    it also could be bad for his career, being on house was giving his acting career validity….but he was still playing Kumar, so what do i know….

  • chiclit

    Well, I think its a great example of how young people are starting to turn to public service again and think about something other than themselves. And by the way, I was no fan of the last President, but I would not have referred to him as hack 80 days into his first term. The negative personal tone of politics these days is discouraging. The system may not be perfect, but its the one we have and gotcha video and name calling don’t lift us up-so kudos to Kumar!

  • Muz

    too bad its for the biggest political hack to sit in the chair since 1979…..

    Curious how the most educated presidents are also “political hacks.”

  • bitchen frizzy

    –“Can you think of another actor who’s done anything so dramatic as quit a hit TV show to take a job in the public sector?”

    Well, I can think of at least two who quit being movie stars to become Governor of California…

    Don’t know what to think of Kal Penn’s move, since I don’t know anything about his abilities in the post. But a lot of actors have transitioned quite naturally and successfully into politics.

  • I think it is super cool.

  • JoshB

    I think I’m gonna miss him on House.

  • JoshDM

    Can you think of another actor who’s done anything so dramatic as quit a hit TV show to take a job in the public sector?

    Movie actor Jay Footlik was appointed Special Assistant to President Clinton, serving as the White House liaison to the American Jewish Community.

    Also, there’s always Reagan, Schwarzenegger, Franken, Ventura, and several others.

  • Rykker

    Thanks for the spoiler, Mr. Mann.

  • Jan Willem

    I agree with Rykker above. Us Europeans don’t get to watch House episodes as quickly as most US residents. MaryAnn, kindly erase Jim Mann’s spoiler and please feel free to erase this my comment while you’re at it.

  • Mathias

    Depends on the President i guess.

    If 3 years ago, Toby Keith took a break from his bigoted and hateful country music career to take on a job at the White House under President Bush for a tiny salary, i doubt we’d be praising him for bucking the winner take all capitalistic climate of ours.

    But since it’s President Obama, who most of us like, it’s easy to admire Kal Penn for his new job of civil service.

  • Ken

    Can you think of another actor who’s done anything so dramatic as quit a hit TV show to take a job in the public sector? Penn’s annual salary is probably now less than what he was making per episode on House.

    Another actor? No. But if we’re speaking public figures in general, Pat Tillman’s decision to leave football (and a multi-million dollar annual salary) behind to join the Army is leaps and bounds over this.

  • Chad

    [HOUSE spoiler — don’t read if you’re not up to date on the show–maj]

    I watched the episode, and it shocked the hell out of me that they would have a suicide within the team. My wife and I both cried our eyes out on that episode, it was so dramatic. That is exactly why we LOVE House and will continue to watch. I will certainly keep an eye on what Kal is doing too in the White House.

  • I guess it’s a good thing I watched House this last Monday. Otherwise, the plot spoiler would have been more of a shock.

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