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Kal Penn's White House gig has an arts angle

April 7, 2009 |  2:22 pm

Kal Kal Penn, known for his role as a stoned underachiever in the "Harold and Kumar" movies, is putting aside the doobie in exchange for a new job at the White House.

The actor, who until this week played Dr. Kutner on Fox's "House," has been hired as an associate director at the Office of Public Liaison, where he will help the Obama administration connect with arts and entertainment groups as well as the Asian and Pacific Islander communities, according to an AP report.

Entertainment Weekly broke the story today in a Q&A interview on its website in which Penn stated that he will "do outreach with the American public and with different organizations."

"House" viewers were shocked when his Kutner character committed suicide on last night's episode.

Penn was a vocal supporter of Obama during his presidential campaign. The actor was one of the speakers at Obama's inaugural concert at the Lincoln Memorial. He also participated in various rallies for the candidate on the campaign trail.

"Harold and Kumar" fans may have a hard time envisioning the actor in a button-down job, but Penn's resume boasts some cultural qualifications. Recently, the actor taught a course in Asian Americans and the media at the University of Pennsylvania. (The university registrar listed him under his real name, Kalpen Modi.)

Penn received a B.A. in sociology with a specialization in theater, film and television from UCLA.

-- David Ng

Photo: Kal Penn with then President-elect Obama at the Lincoln Memorial. Credit: Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images.

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