Kal Penn is a fascinating man.
He is a rarity in the entertainment industry, known for his stirring dramatic performances in 'The Namesake' and 'House' as much as he is for the stoner slapstick of 'Harold and Kumar go to White Castle.' Many in Hollywood wear both the actor and producer hats, but Penn is also a civil servant; in 2009 he abruptly left his ongoing role on 'House' to take a position in the Obama administration. Penn acts as an Associate Director in the White House Office of Public Engagement, a responsibility he balances with his acting career.
As though that duality wasn't unique enough, Penn will now be producing and hosting a reality show competition for Discovery Channel called 'The Big Brain Theory.'
Coming in January 2013, 'The Big Brain Theory' is an inventing competition for engineers slated for eight initial episodes. The show, which began filming earlier this week, features design engineers competing against each other in extreme challenges that push the boundaries of technology, creativity, ingenuity and craftsmanship.
The Executive Vice President of Production and Development for Discovery Channel, Nancy Daniels, hyped the show by saying "with the death of Steve Jobs, I think we all have wondered about the future of American innovation, and who will be the next great technological mind that will have serious impact on our lives. This show seeks to find that person, along the way revealing and celebrating the level of innovation that exists within our scientific community."
Competitors on 'The Big Brain Theory' will be presented with various challenges and will be offered a mere thirty minutes to adumbrate a plan for how to address the issue. From there, an expert panel of judges decides how best to complete the given project and the engineers are split into teams. Much like on so many reality shows, the team with the winning design is safe until the following episode, where the losing team will be subject to an elimination vote.
The cameras will follow the competitors in the design workshop as well as in their living quarters they all share. The winner of the competition will earn $50,000 and a one-year contract to work at WET (Water Entertainment Technologies), where the series is being filmed.
You just never know where Kal Penn will turn up next.