Actor Kal Penn credits Gandhi as he leaves Hollywood for Obama's Washington
But this week Team Obama did manage to pull off a major medical coup in that nexus between television and politics that might be called Hollywood on the Potomac.
As the Ticket reported earlier, actor Kal Penn, who gained fame as the costar of the raucous and profane cult favorite "Harold and Kumar" stoner comedies, and is seen above playing a doctor on Fox TV's popular "House" with actor Hugh Laurie, is heading to Washington to work from what he calls "the front door" of Obama's White House.
To pave the way for Penn's departure from the cast of "House," a medical wonder of its own, producers decided to have his character commit suicide on Monday night's show. The buzz helped lift the show's ratings past ABC's "Dancing with the Stars."
Penn, 31, campaigned for Barack Obama last year. Word is the Indian American actor was a big hit on college campuses. Now Penn will become associate director in the White House Office of Public Liaison, an envoy to the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities, to Hollywood and to young people.
Unlike Gupta, who turned down the Obama job citing family considerations, Penn had the decency to acknowledge to Entertainment Weekly that leaving Hollywood for Washington does entail a pay cut. In fact, no manse for Penn -- he said he's shopping for an apartment.
"There's not a lot of financial reward in these jobs," he said. "But, obviously, the opportunity to serve in a capacity like this is an incredible honor."
Penn said he loves the "House" crew of actors, and hesitated before leaving the hit show. But he said he was drawn to Washington by his grandparents' history -- and values -- in marching with Mahatma Gandhi.
The New Jersey-born actor has had some experience working with Washington types. In "Harold and Kumar: Escape from Guantanamo Bay," he smoked pot with a fictional George W. Bush.
-- Johanna Neuman
[For the record: An earlier version of this post misspelled the name Gandhi as Ghandi.]
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Photo credit: Adam Taylor/Fox TV