Actor Kal Penn to Leave White House for Hollywood

Apr 2, 2010 1:28pm

ABC News’ Devin Dwyer reports:

Kal Penn, best known as the latter half of stoner duo "Harold and Kumar," is reportedly leaving his White House post as associate director of public engagement to make a return to the Silver Screen.

The move was first reported by Entertainment Weekly but was not immediately confirmed by White House officials.  Press secretary Robert Gibbs said he hadn’t heard about the departure.  The Lavin Agency, which represents Penn, declined to comment.

Penn, who most recently starred in the hit show “House,” left Hollywood to work in the Obama White House after the 2008 election, saying at the time that he was “incredibly honored” by the opportunity.  He had campaigned for Obama as a celebrity surrogate from the Iowa caucuses through Election Day.

Entertainment Weekly reports Penn will star in a new Christmas-themed “Harold and Kumar” film due out later this year.

The reasons for Penn’s departure from his post in the White House Office of Public Liaison are unclear.

Asked by the hosts of ABC News’ “Top Line” if the lure of Tinseltown cash may have been at least one of the reasons for Penn's possible departure, White House economic advisor Austan Goolsbee joked, “I'm hurt and offended that you didn't ask whether the million dollar Hollywood contracts were calling for me. I have not accepted any such contract at this point.”

ABC News’ Lisa Chinn, Ann Compton, Matt Loffman and Nitya Venkataraman contributed to this report.

UPDATE:  White House spokesman Shin Inouye would not confirm this afternoon that Penn is in fact leaving the administration. Penn is "honored to serve in this Administration and has no announcements to make about his tenure here at this point,” he said in an email to ABC News.   


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