Friday, June 30, 2017

Daniel Dae Kim and Grace Park leave 'Hawaii Five-0'

Grace Park and Daniel Dae Kim have left the popular television series Hawaii Five-0,


CBS announced today (June 30) that Daniel Dae Kim and Grace Park, two of the four mainstays on Hawaii Five-0 wont be returning next season. Their characters Chin Ho Kelly and Komo Kalakaua respetively, will be written off the the show. Their absence will be explained iat the start of next season, the series' eighth.

CBS didn't state the reason why two of the original stars of the series left the show, but Variety said it was a salary dispute.

Sources told Variety that Park and Kim had been seeking pay equality with stars Alex O'Loughlin and Scott Caan, but were unable to reach satisfactory deals with CBS Television Studios, which produces the series. Kim and Park were believed to be making 10-15% less than O'Loughlin and Caan.

Reasonable enough. The four primary actors were an ensemble. True, the writers gave more lines and airtime to the white actors, (that's the problem with having a writing team made up primarily of whites) but that didn't overshadow the key roles played by Kim and Park.

What made Hawaii Five-0 different from the dozens of cop-and-robber shows on television was not the banter between its two white detectives, it was its locale and the people of Hawaii, which included Chin Ho Kelly and Komo Kalakaua, who allowed the series a glimpse into the real Hawaii, their families, friends and ethnic traditions. The two characters broke through the stereotypes often depicted by writers who haven't been exposed to Asian Americans. Kelly was sexy and sympathetic, tender and tough. Kalakaua was beautiful but also clever and an equal in smarts and physicality to any of the male characters.

So what made it so easy for the producers and CBS to say goodbye to two key characters who helped establish the show's popularity among viewers an advertisers? The elephant in the room, of course, is that Kim and Park are Korean; O'Loughlin and Caan are white.

So all the blah-blah from producer Peter Lenkoy and CBS announcing the two Asian/Americans' departure really rings hollow: "They will always be ohana to us ..." said Lenkoy. A CBS spokesman went so far as to say "Mahalo and a hui hou..." as if the Hawaiian references would make their greed read as a sincere expression of thanks. Instead, it translates as patronizing.

Even though actor departures are nothing new to television, the loss of Kim and Park has an added layer of significance given the criticism aimed at CBS in recent years for the network's dismal record of putting diversity in starring roles across its prime-time lineup.

When Hawaii Five-0 returned to TV in 2010, it was one of the very few shows with 3-dimensional Asian/American characters. 

Kim's and Park's departure will leave a void and if the producers are smart, they'll fill those roles with two other actors who are Asian/American  or Pacific Islanders. Being newcomers to an established show, they will most likely less expensive (and probably less demanding). They better be Asian American or Pacific Islander because any show set in Hawaii should reflect the real population of the islands, the majority of whom are of Asian and Pacific Islander descent.

Needless to say, fans of the show went crazy and many of them thought the statements issued by CBS and the show's producers were insufficient.