By Ruth Bayang
NORTHWEST ASIAN WEEKLY
I don’t watch very much TV. But one of the few shows I watched was “Hawaii Five-O,” which should now be renamed “Haole Five-0.”
Two Asian actors — Daniel Dae Kim and Grace Park — will not be back for the eighth season of the CBS police drama, which is scheduled to return in September. Both have been a part of the “Hawaii Five-O” reboot since its inception, with Kim playing Chin Ho Kelly and Park playing Kono Kalakaua, cousins on the special police task force.
CBS gave no explanation for the actors’ decisions. Variety reports that both Park and Kim were making 10 to 15 percent less than the show’s two other main characters, Alex O’Loughlin and Scott Caan, and were seeking equal pay. However, neither was able to reach a satisfactory deal with CBS.
Executive Producer Peter Lenkov said in a statement, “I will never forget meeting Daniel while still writing the pilot and being certain there was no other actor who I’d want to play Chin Ho Kelly.” About Park, Lenkov said, “Grace’s presence gave ‘Hawaii Five-O’ a beauty and serenity to each episode. She was the consummate collaborator, helping build her character from day one. They will always be ohana to us, we will miss them and we wish them both all the best.”
Funny how producers use the term ohana to describe the stars, yet they couldn’t cough up the money. How does it make sense to have a show about Hawaii — the nation’s only majority Asian state — without Asian actors in the main roles?
And what about Loughlin and Caan? They could stand in solidarity with their castmates a la Big Bang Theory and Friends — and demand they all get paid equally, even if it means taking a pay cut.
Apparently the producers are already looking for an Asian American actor to replace Park, probably so they can say they are not racist and save money. They probably won’t pay an unknown Asian actor the same as they did Park.
Or maybe Emma Stone is available.
If CBS isn’t going to be smart enough to keep Kim and Park, they might as well make the next season the last. I don’t see how you can have Hawaii Five-O without Chin Ho and Kono.
And honestly, the whiny bromance banter between McGarrett and Dano is getting old.
I hope the show’s ratings follow Kim and Park out the door.
Ruth can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.