Clint Eastwood’s memorable cameo at the recent Republican National Convention was supposed to be kept secret. But it’s widely known that Obama Campaign Co-Chair Eva Longoria, formerly of ABC’s Desperate Housewives, is scheduled to speak during this week’s Democratic National Convention. After stumping for Obama in 2008, and hosting Florida’s Women’s Summit in early August, the Latina activist will be one of 9 women addressing the convention from the podium in Charlotte. But far less publicized is that Kal Penn will host a portion of the DNC’s official gavel-to-gavel livestream. That’s right, the 35-year-old Harold & Kumar stoner star and one-time Houseregular who also worked on Barack Obama’s first campaign and on his arts policy committee and later in his White House. Now he’s back in the thick of Democratic politics. The Indian-American from New Jersey has been visiting 2012 battleground states drumming up Obama support among young voters. One report claims he’ll take the podium during Tuesday night’s DNC program. But his starring role comes Thursday when he’s hosting a web-only convention special called “Live From Charlotte” starting at 8 PM ET. It will include interviews with campaign officials and Obama supporter celebs including singer Marc Anthony, film actress Elizabeth Banks, CBS’ The Talk cohost Aisha Tyler, TV/film actress Olivia Wilde, The Nanny and now TVLand sitcom star Fran Drescher, TV/film star Zach Braff, and Gilmore Girls‘ Alexis Bledel.
Penn is returning to TV in Rob Greenberg’s single-camera comedy pilot for CBS titled Ex-Men. This past season, he recurred on that network’s How I Met Your Mother. He also recently toplined ABC’s comedy pilot Prairie Dogs. But he’s probably best known for leaving Fox drama House and acting for a 2-year stint at the White House as associate director in the Office of Public Engagement (under his real name, Kalpen Modi). “It felt worth trying to be part of such a pivotal moment in history,” Penn told Deadline afterwards. “And let’s face it, people don’t go into acting for the career stability. You do it because you’re passionate. I found the same true about public service.”
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Penn had been working on a graduate degree in international security at Stanford and once served as a visiting lecturer in Asian American studies at the University of Pennsylvania before his public policy stint. “I served as a liaison speaking to young Americans, and you see that everything’s this laborious back and forth. I found beauty in that, a reminder that it’s the difference between a dictatorship and a democracy, and why the founding fathers designed the system to have all this pushing and pulling.” Penn comes from a socially conscious family: his grandparents marched with Gandhi.