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Asian-American Comedians Who Are Blowing Up the Entertainment Game

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During a recent trip to VH1, Kal Penn — perhaps best known as Kumar Patel from the wildly popular Harold & Kumar franchise — told us how excited he is about the new wave of Asian-American comedians taking Hollywood by storm. And he’s totally right.

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by (@missmuttoo)

Celebrities Threaten To Delete Their Instagram Accounts, Instagram Hastily Amends Policy

Celebrities Tweet Anger About Instagram Policy Change

By now you’ve heard the furor over Instagram’s new policy — which will take effect in a month — that basically allows them to own and sell users photographs without any compensation or prior permission. This happened after Facebook bought out the comapany. Apart from the issues of privacy, which has thousands up in arms, celebrities are also going nuts because the policy states that photographs of users can also be appropriated for advertising purposes. You know what that means. Precious endorsement money gone down the drain. As expected, the world also decided to take their frustration about this decision out on Twitter. Out of all the angry tweets floating about, we culled out the top 10 most mad tweets sent out by celebrities who stated they were going to delete their accounts.

The good news is that with all this fuss and also, all the thousands of retweets of celebrity messages saying they were done with Instagram, the company has had a change of heart. A new, long, apologetic and detailed statement is up on the Instagram blog, written by co-founder Kevin Systrom, saying that, “… As we review your feedback and stories in the press, we’re going to modify specific parts of the terms to make it more clear what will happen with your photos.” The most important point clarified is about advertising, as Systrom writes, “Advertising is one of many ways that Instagram can become a self-sustaining business, but not the only one. Our intention in updating the terms was to communicate that we’d like to experiment with innovative advertising that feels appropriate on Instagram.” And here comes the clarification: “Instead it was interpreted by many that we were going to sell your photos to others without any compensation. This is not true and it is our mistake that this language is confusing. To be clear: it is not our intention to sell your photos. We are working on updated language in the terms to make sure this is clear.”

There’s a lot more in there about ownership and privacy writes, so give it a read here. Until then, enjoy the celebrity tweets that most probably helped in Instagram scrambling to get this statement up! Yee-haw for star power!

Anderson Cooper

by (@JordanRuntagh)

From Natalie Portman And Scarlett Johansson To Clint Eastwood And His Chair: See Which Celebs Have Been Turning Up At The National Conventions

Celebrities at the national conventions

Election fever is starting to go full tilt as we cruise into fall, and celebs of all stripes have put in appearances at the national political conventions to show their support for their favorite presidential candidate! Democrats seemed to have the hotties in their corner, with appearances from Scarlett Johansson, Natalie Portman, Kerry Washington and Eva Longoria. Yeah, we all know about how most of Hollywood are Democrats (insert evil liberal media bias conspiracy argument here). But what can we say, the pictures speak for themselves! We also have some rap and R&B artists like Common, will.i.am and Mary J. Blige bringing the noise and the funk for Barack Obama. Even U.S. Gynmastic sweetheart Gabby Douglas got in on the red, white and blue fun!

Say what you will about their politics, but the Republican National Convention definitely rocked the hardest of the two. Mitt Romney and the gang had a hand from freakin’ Journey! But that’s not all. Axe-men from 3 Doors Down, Lynyrd Skynyrd shredded their strings for the GOP, and Kid Rock, Trace Adkins and Taylor Hicks also showed up to belt a few tunes. Plus, who could forget Clint Eastwood and his incredible empty chair? Head to the gallery below to check out all the famous folks who have made their voices heard at the national political conferences!

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[Photo: Getty Images]

by (@shalapitcher)

Barack Obama’s Harold And Kumar Promo: Probably Not As Funny For Stoners As Eastwooding

It’s no secret that President Obama is making a big push to mobilize the youth vote for his reelection in November, and that he’s got his work cut out for him. Many of the young voters who made his victory possible in 2008 seem less fired up about this election year. We suspect that’s why Obama’s returning to the kind of appearances that gave him cred among that demo in the first place. Over the weekend, he appeared, via video, at Jay-Z’s Made in America music festival in Philadelphia. And today, he’s going viral online with a video promo that looks a lot like an appeal to the stoner vote.

“Listen, I need to know if you’re onboard,” the president says to an unseen party on the phone — after dialing a number he has apparently memorized. “OK, good, ’cause I’m counting on you. Everybody is. We have to get this right, so there’s a lot at stake here. Just remember that I’m trusting you on this, and I’ll see you there.”

He sounds more like he’s giving a speech to all of America’s youth rather than chatting with someone on the phone, and the soaring music that plays behind him doesn’t help. Then the scene flips to the other side of the conversation. As Kal Penn hangs up the phone, John Cho asks, “Dude, who was that? Sounded intense.” A dazed Penn says, “The president,” to which Cho responds thoughtfully, “Sweet.”

And no, there is no weed in sight, nor does Neil Patrick Harris appear, but the junk food, living room setting and sounds of a cartoon playing on the TV certainly imply that this is not the Kal Penn who worked in the White House as associate director of the White House Office of Public Engagement after leaving House M.D. Nope, Obama rang up his buddy Kumar.

So what’s the strategy here? We’re pretty sure any marijuana-smoking, cartoon-loving kid is already much more likely to support Obama than his straight-laced Mormon opponent. This looks more like a plea for marijuana-smoking, cartoon loving kids to get off their couches for a few minutes in November to vote. Or at least to tune in on Thursday night to watch Penn host a live-stream of his speech at the Democratic National Convention. We wonder if that will in any way be as entertaining to watch stoned as Clint Eastwood’s interview with Invisible Obama. Maybe he should promise free sliders and some slapstick comedy for good measure?

by (@missmuttoo)

Kal Penn Calls Out Joel Stein For Xenophobic Article

stein-penn

Really Joel Stein? Have you not learned anything from Mel Gibson‘s racist mistakes? The writer quickly came under fire for publishing a piece in Time called “My Own Private India,” an openly mocking and hugely insensitive opinion piece about the large, expanding Indian population in Stein’s hometown, Edison, New Jersey. And it featured gems like, “Were they from some Indian state that got made fun of by all the other Indian states and didn’t want to give up that feeling? Are the malls in India that bad? Did we accidentally keep numbering our parkway exits all the way to Mumbai?” Nice, Stein.

Kal Penn to the rescue! The Indian-American actor wrote a piece for the Huffington Post called “The ‘Hilarious’ Xenophobia of Time’s Joel Stein” calling out all the BS in Stein’s piece. And we have to add, Penn’s piece was written better as well. He retaliated with, “Gags about impossibly spicy food? I’d never heard those before! Multiple Gods with multiple arms? Multiple laughs! Recounting racial slurs like ‘dot-head?’ Oh, Mr. Stein, is too good!” He added, “Critics might call Mr. Stein’s humor super-tired or as played out as the jokes about that cheap Jewish car that stopped on a dime to pick it up, or that African American kid who got marked absent at night school. Although unlike Stein’s Indian American piece, in 2010 those other jokes don’t show up in mainstream media like TIME magazine. I wonder why that is…”

Yes, Stein, why is that?

The magazine has issued a statement of apology since, “TIME sincerely regrets that any of our readers were upset by Joel Stein’s recent humor column ‘My Own Private India,’ It was in no way intended to cause offense.” Sure.. when you write that Indians look “like the Italian Guidos I grew up with in the 1980s,” that’s totally not offensive. Or, “In the 1990s, the not-as-brilliant merchants brought their even-less-bright cousins, and we started to understand why India is so damn poor.” That’s not offensive, either.

Stein’s backtracked as well, writing an apology that reads, “I truly feel stomach-sick that I hurt so many people. I was trying to explain how, as someone who believes that immigration has enriched American life and my hometown in particular, I was shocked that I could feel a tiny bit uncomfortable with my changing town when I went to visit it.” The discomfort showed. But where was the appreciation of “enriched American life”?

He was on Twitter as well, tweeting, “Didn’t meant to insult Indians with my column this week. Also stupidly assumed their emails would follow that Gandhi non-violence thing.” Just go with a straight-up apology. Don’t use the Gandhian non-violent treatise as an excuse to be a prat. And quit the ethnic stereotyping.

[Photo: Getty Images]

by (@missmuttoo)

Kumar Robbed At Gunpoint, Secret Service Investigating

kumar-kal-penn

Kal Penn, aka Kumar of “Harold and Kumar” and “House” fame, was robbed at gunpoint early last morning in Washington D.C. Penn says a man carrying a gun stole his wallet and other personal property. The latter included two cell phones, one of which belongs to U.S Government. Penn will be leaving his position as the Assistant Director of the White House Office for Public Engagement under the Obama administration to return to his acting career.

But since he’s still part of the staff and has a government issued mobile,  the Secret Service is joining the D.C. Metro Police Department to catch the crook. Penn apparently contacted White House communications who stopped service on the phone immediately and got him a new phone. No official numbers were on the stolen device so top secret information hasn’t  been compromised. One question: How dumb is this thief? He totally picked the wrong guy to mug!

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Kal Penn Is Not Dead…Just Working For The President

barack obama & kal penn

House fans were shocked last night by the sudden suicide of Dr. Lawrence Kutner, played by Kal Penn. The Harold & Kumar actor has a new gig working for the White House, and Penn—who volunteered for Barack Obama‘s presidential campaign—asked the producers if they could take care of Kutner’s storyline…permanently.

I was incredibly honored a couple of months ago to get the opportunity to go work in the White House. I got to know the President and some of the staff during the campaign and had expressed interest in working there, so I’m going to be the associate director in the White House office of public liaison. They do outreach with the American public and with different organizations. They’re basically the front door of the White House. They take out all of the red tape that falls between the general public and the White House. It’s similar to what I was doing on the campaign.

The producers are warning Entertainment Weekly that fans shouldn’t expect much explanation for Kutner’s sudden death (“Obviously, there are reasons, but the notion that the reasons are too complicated for even House to figure out is what was drawing us to it”). Confused fans looking for a place to grieve can go to Fox’s memorial page for the character, which leads to a Facebook group so earnest you might feel like something bad has happened to Penn. Maybe he should hold a press conference just so everyone knows he’s OK.

[Photo: AFP]