Hawaii Five-0 boss speaks out on Daniel Dae Kim, Grace Park controversy
In the wake of what’s turned into a somewhat contentious cast departure, Hawaii Five-0 showrunner Peter Lenkov used Twitter to reveal the truth behind Daniel Dae Kim and Grace Park’s exits.
Last week, it was announced that both original cast members would exit ahead of the procedural’s eighth season, which kicked off production this week. Kim posted a lengthy Facebook message to fans explaining that he decided to leave the show after contract negotiations with the network failed. Kim and Park reportedly had been seeking equal pay with stars Alex O’Loughlin and Scott Caan. CBS, in turn, responded with a statement saying the network offered the duo “large and significant salary raises.”
In response, Lenkov addressed H50 fans directly in his message on Twitter, explaining that both actors were offered “unprecedented raises” by the “extremely generous” network, but “chose to move on.”
“Thank you for all your messages and support over 7 seasons,” Lenkov wrote. “We are all saddened by the Daniel and Grace news and I wanted to reach out to you directly. The truth is this: Both actors chose not to extend their contracts. CBS was extremely generous and proactive in their renegotiation talks. So much so, the actors were getting unprecedented raises, but in the end they chose to move on. No one wanted to see them go — they are irreplaceable. After being away from her family for seven years, I understood Grace’s decision to leave. There was an opportunity for her to return for a handful of episodes, but for several reasons that didn’t work out. In the end, everyone tried their best to keep the ohana intact. So much so, we were holding off from reporting the news, hoping an agreement could still be reached. Yes, it’s heartbreaking, but this happens on long-running shows. It is a hurdle we all worked hard to overcome.”
Lenkov also addressed the criticism from fans, who quickly took to social media to complain that the show was axing two actors of Asian descent. Park and Kim’s exits also came after Masi Oka, who played Dr. Max Bergman since early in season 1, exited Hawaii Five-0 during season 7. Lenkov wrote, “Over our 168 episodes, Hawaii Five-0 has and will continue to showcase one of the most diverse casts on TV: Chi McBride, Jorge Garcia, Mark Dacascos, Ian Anthony Dale, Will Yun Lee, Masi Oka, Dennis Chun, Taylor Wily, Shawn Garnett, Kimee Balmilero, Keko Kekumano, Shawn Anthony Thomsen, as well as Daniel and Grace… all of these great talents regulars or recurring. I’m proud of that roster and of our show.”
Though the duo won’t continue with the show, viewers will find out what happened to their characters in the season premiere. At the end of last season, Kono (Park) left the team to investigate a child sex trafficking ring, while Chin (Kim) was offered an opportunity to start up a San Francisco task force. As EW previously reported, the show is casting a new female series regular (details here).
Hawaii Five-0 will return Friday, Sept. 29 at 9 p.m. ET on CBS.