Grace Park as Kono and Daniel Dae Kim as Chin Ho in a scene from “Hawaii Five-0.” (CBS)
HONOLULU — Actors Daniel Dae Kim and Grace Park have left the cast of the CBS crime drama “Hawaii Five-0” and will not appear in Season 8 of the series.
According to Variety, the two had sought salaries equal to those of their white co-stars, Alex O’Loughlin and Scott Caan, but CBS Television Studios’ final offer was 10 to 15 percent lower than the amount sought. O’Loughlin and Caan also get a cut of the show’s profits.
A network representative said in a statement, “We are so appreciative of Daniel and Grace’s enormous talents, professional excellence, and the aloha spirit they brought to each and every one of our 168 episodes. They’ve helped us build an exciting new ‘Hawaii Five-0,’ and we wish them all the best and much success in their next chapters. Mahalo and a hui hou (until we meet again).”
Executive producer Peter Lenkov said, “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. Needless to say, Daniel has been an instrumental part of the success of ‘Hawaii Five-0’ over the past seven seasons and it has personally been a privilege to know him.
“Grace’s presence gave ‘Hawaii Five-0’ a beauty and serenity to each episode. She was the consummate collaborator, helping build her character from Day 1. They will always be ohana (family) to us, we will miss them, and we wish them both all the best.”
CBS said in a follow-up statement on July 5, “Daniel and Grace have been important and valued members of ‘Hawaii Five-0’ for seven seasons. We did not want to lose them and tried very hard to keep them with offers for large and significant salary increases. While we could not reach an agreement, we part ways with tremendous respect for their talents on screen, as well as their roles as ambassadors for the show off screen, and with hopes to work with them again in the near future.”
The network said that the two characters’ absence will be referenced in this fall’s season premiere, but it remains to be seen how it will be explained.
Entertainment Weekly’s Natalie Abrams reported, “I am hearing the show is casting a new female series regular named Tani, a stubborn but smart and courageous former first-rate candidate who was kicked out of the police academy for cheating on her final exam — oh, and punching out a training officer, who apparently deserved to get socked. She’s currently working as a lifeguard when McGarrett and Danno try to enlist her for Five-0.”
Kim issued an official statement to his fans on July 5: “Sorry for the delay in hearing from me, but like you I’m sure, my July 4th holiday was busy with friends and family. I’m back now and didn’t want to let any more time go by without reaching out. By now many of you have heard the news, and I’m sad to say it is true. I will not be returning to ‘Hawaii Five-0’ when production starts next week. Though I made myself available to come back, CBS and I weren’t able to agree to terms on a new contract, so I made the difficult choice not to continue.
“As sad as it feels to say goodbye, what I feel most is gratitude. I am so deeply thankful to our crew, writers and everyone associated with the show – and especially the cast, who have been nothing but supportive through this entire process. They and the crew have been my second family for seven years and I wish them nothing but success for Season 8 – and beyond.
“I also want to say to thank you to Peter Lenkov, Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci and everyone at CBS. I will always be grateful for their faith in me to bring Chin Ho Kelly to life. As an Asian American actor, I know first-hand how difficult it is to find opportunities at all, let alone play a well developed, three-dimensional character like Chin Ho. I will miss him sincerely.
“What made him even more special is that he was a representative of a place my family and I so dearly love. It has been nothing short of an honor to be able to showcase the beauty and people of Hawaii every week, and I couldn’t be prouder to call these islands home. To my local community, mahalo nui loa.
“Finally, I want to thank all of you, the fans. I’ve read your messages and I can’t tell you how much they’ve meant to me. I never, ever forget that YOU are the reason ‘Hawaii Five-0’ is the success that it is, and interacting with you online and in person around the world(!) has been one of the greatest joys of this entire experience. I’m so sorry we won’t be continuing this journey together.
“I’ll end by saying that though transitions can be difficult, I encourage us all to look beyond the disappointment of this moment to the bigger picture. The path to equality is rarely easy. But I hope you can be excited for the future. I am. ‘5-0’ continues on after one of its strongest seasons. I’ve got new acting projects on the horizon, and as a producer, my company, 3AD, has its first show, ‘The Good Doctor,’ set to air this fall on ABC. I hope you’ll tune in. There’s a lot to look forward to and I’ll be sure to share it with you.”
In an interview with Entertainment Weekly prior to the announcement, Park said she didn’t know if she was returning for Season 8: “I did go talk to Peter Lenkov the other day, who is the showrunner, but it’s still undecided as to what’s going to happen. But, of course, I have hopes for it to go well, but I’m not sure what’s going to come from all this.”
Park seemed open to the possibility of returning as a guest star to wrap up her character’s story. “That’s one of the things that’s up in the air. I would love to and I have ideas of that, and we’ve been talking story points, but unfortunately amongst storytelling, there’s also business. It’s called show business. That’s part and parcel of this industry.”
In addition to crime stories, “Hawaii Five-0” explored the personal lives of the main characters. Chin Ho marries Malia (Reiko Aylesworth), but she is murdered. He later has a girlfriend, Leilani (Lindsay Price). Kono falls in love with Adam Noshimuri (Ian Anthony Dale) and marries him despite his ties to the yakuza. (Dale said of Park and Kim, “A class act through and through. You make us all proud.”)
But when it comes to major guest stars, the show has been called racist by Guy Aoki, founding president of Media Action Network for Asian Americans (MANAA). “The numbers don’t lie,” he told Hawaii News Now. “If you look at the seven seasons of the show and every person who hangs out with the team to catch the bad guy is white or black and only one is Asian.”
He added, “I’ve had an ongoing battle with CBS about ‘Hawaii Five-0’ since Day One because they were using Asian Pacific Islanders as guest stars mostly as suspects.”
“Wow. This is vomit-inducing,” tweeted columnist Jeff Yang in response to the announcement. “Grace & Daniel are the only reasons to watch the show & to be denied parity in pay after 7 seasons?”
Olivia Wolf of AsAmNews wrote, “While some have argued that Park and Kim have smaller roles in the series, it is also important to question why Asian actors are constantly pigeonholed into stereotyped and supporting roles … CBS, it’s time to start paying your Asian actors fair wages.”
Angry Asian Man blogger Phil Yu wrote, “The studio apparently didn’t think the two Asian leads were quite as worthwhile as the two white dudes … And with that, ‘Hawaii Five-0’ has unceremoniously lost all of its main Asian American characters.”
Asian American actors have tweeted their support of Kim and Park, including the following:
Constance Wu (“Fresh Off the Boat”): “Here’s to Daniel Dae Kim & Grace Park standing up for equality. Know ur worth, ur value … & don’t be afraid to stand up for it.”
Ally Maki (“Wrecked”): “It’s time to stop being silent. This is a great start.”
Peter Kwong (“Big Trouble in Little China”): Suspicious, all Asian leads in ‘Hawaii Five-0’ left this year. What does this say about race and gender?”
“Hawaii Five-0” regulars Daniel Dae Kim, Scott Caan, Alex O’Loughlin and Grace Park.
Other APA Characters
The departure of Park and Kim follows that of Masi Oka (formerly of “Heroes”), who had a recurring role as medical examiner Max Bergman in Season 1 and was a regular from Seasons 2 to 7. He decided to leave the show last year and was given a farewell episode in which Max heads for Africa with his new bride, Sabrina (Rumer Willis), thus leaving open the possibility of a guest appearance in the future.
“Hawaii Five-0,” a reboot of the show that ran from 1968 to 1980 on CBS, premiered in 2010 and originally had four regulars: O’Loughlin as Steve McGarrett, a decorated former Navy SEAL and head of the Five-0 Task Force; Caan as Danny Williams, McGarrett’s second-in-command, who transferred from New Jersey; Kim (formerly of “Lost”) as Chin Ho Kelly, a veteran Honolulu Police Department detective and protégé of McGarrett’s late father; and Park (formerly of “Battlestar Galactica”) as Kono Kalakaua, Chin Ho’s cousin and a former surfer who was recruited by McGarrett out of the HPD Academy.
In addition to Oka, subsequent regulars included Lauren German as Special Agent Lori Weston (Season 2); Michelle Borth as Lt. Catherine Rollins (Seasons 3 to 4); Chi McBride as HPD SWAT Capt. Lou Grover (Season 4 to present); and Jorge Garcia as conspiracy theorist Jerry Ortega (Season 5 to present).
Recurring characters have included:
Taylor Wily as Kamekona, ex-con turned entrepreneur and confidential informant for Five-0.
Mark Dacascos as Wo Fat, a criminal mastermind who frames McGarrett for the murder of Hawaii’s governor.
Will Yun Lee as Sang Min, a snakehead who is busted by Five-0 and is later used as a source of criminal intelligence.
Brian Yang as HPD forensic scientist Charlie Fong, a childhood friend of Kono.
Dennis Chun as HPD Sgt. Duke Lukela, who acts as a liaison with Five-0. Chun is the son of Kam Fong Chun, who played Chin Ho in the original series.
Daniel Henney as Michael Noshimuri, Adam’s brother, who commits a murder and attempts to frame Kono.
Kelly Hu as Laura Hills, an aide to Gov. Jameson.
Al Harrington as Mamo Kahike, owner of a surf rental stand at Waikiki Beach. Harrington played Detective Ben Kokua in the original series.
Autumn Reeser as Dr. Gabby Asano, Danny’s ex-love interest.
Keo Woolford as HPD Detective James Chang, who falsely arrests McGarrett.
Rosalind Chao as Keiko Mahoe, the new governor.