WASHINGTON--The White House Friday said that actor Kal Penn is still on the job as an associate director in the White House Office of Public Engagement, even as a report surfaced that he is departing.
One year ago--April, 2009-- Penn, the star of "House" had his character killed off and announced he would be going to work in the Obama White House. Penn made the move to Washington from Los Angeles last July and went to work using his real name--Kalpen Modi.
On Friday, Entertainment Weekly said he was leaving the White House to return to acting
A White House spokesman, Shin Inouye, told me Friday, "Mr. Modi is honored to serve in this Administration and has no announcements to make about his tenure here at this point."
I asked if Modi was still at the White House and Inouye told me "yes." I asked if Modi confirmed the Entertainment Weekly story and I was told, "he did not." The story uses an unnamed rep of the actor for confirmation.
Here's what I wrote last July:
Kal Penn the actor--and the screen name-- is on a sabbatical.
Kalpen Modi, 32, an associate director in the White House Office of Public Engagement reported--finally--for work on Monday, in a suit and tie.
The high profile Obama presidential campaign volunteer is a liaison between the Asian American and arts communities and the White House. He will work in the shop run by two Chicagoans--Valerie Jarrett who presides over the public engagement operation, and Tina Tchen, who directs the office.
During the campaign, Modi--according to his publicist--made more than 175 stops across 26 states and also was on the Obama Campaign's Arts Policy Committee. His involvement got him to thinking about a career shift.
Back in April, Modi (he never legally changed his name) and the White House announced he was joining the Obama administration, just as his character in the FOX television show "House" committed suicide, with the plot twist upsetting some fans.
Modi moved from Los Angeles to an apartment in Washington, unpacking boxes over the July 4 weekend, he told reporters on Monday. And while he said he expects "to be treated like any staff member," most don't debut with a conference call to oblige inquiring reporters.