CBS Made Wrong Call on Daniel Dae Kim, Grace Park ‘Hawaii Five-0’ Deals (Column)

"Ko' Olauloa" -- Coverage of the
CBS/Neil Jacobs

Season 8 of “Hawaii Five-0” will return to the special task force in the Aloha State — a state where 57.4% of residents claim some Asian heritage, according to the U.S. Census — without all of its Asian regular characters. Actors Daniel Dae Kim and Grace Park, who have been integral parts of the cast since the show’s inception in 2010, will be leaving the series after contract negotiations reached an impasse. The issue, as was obliquely referenced in a Facebook post from Kim on Wednesday, was pay parity with white stars Alex O’Loughlin and Scott Caan.

The actors’ departure highlights an ongoing problem for CBS: Despite being America’s most-watched TV outlet for 14 of the past 15 years, the network cannot claim to be fully representative of the audience it serves. Last August, then-CBS Entertainment chief Glenn Geller publicly acknowledged that the network needed to address the lack of diversity in its programming, both in front of and behind the camera. “We need to do better, and we know it,” he said at the Television Critics Association summer press tour. At the time, all six of CBS’ new fall shows for the 2016-17 season were toplined by white men, and the network had no showrunners of color.  

In an indication of taking the issue seriously, the network launched a diversity casting initiative a few months later, and this fall has a new drama, “SWAT,” that both stars and is co-run by African-Americans. To be sure, these are baby steps — the network still has no female leads in its new shows, and only a smattering of female executive producers — but an effort has at least been attempted. 

This makes the confusion around Park and Kim even more counterintuitive. “Hawaii Five-0” was a seemingly effortless success story for the network — a show that both found an organically inclusive storyline and attracted regular viewers. (In addition to strong live ratings, “Hawaii Five-0” is a syndication moneymaker for CBS.) Kim and Park are technically supporting cast members to the leads, which explains some CBS’ hesitation in bringing them up to parity with No. 1 (McLoughlin) and No. 2 (Caan) on the call sheet. But pay bumps for long-serving actors on a successful show seems rather surmountable for a network as big as CBS. CBS by its own account said Wednesday it offered “large and significant raises” to both actors. 

And it should be said that at least one of the reasons Kim and Park are supporting characters is because “Hawaii Five-0” is a reboot of a series that debuted in 1968 — a beloved show, but one that so centered its white actors that it engaged in yellowface casting in a manner that would be utterly unacceptable by contemporary standards. The rebooted version has had an opportunity to address, reframe, and appreciate the original — and by and large it’s succeeded in balancing nostalgia with modernity.

But all that will be a little harder to do without both of its central Asian characters. In the show’s storytelling, Chin (Kim) in particular is the Five-0’s connection to Hawaiian culture — he speaks Hawaiian and recruits his cousin Kono, played by Park, to be a part of their team. Kim has reprised his character in crossover events on other CBS shows: “NCIS: Los Angeles,” in 2012, and “MacGyver” this March, where he was joined by Park’s character Kono. Kim and Park have been consistently featured in the show’s key art, which frames the show as one led by a quartet of characters — and because Caan negotiated fewer episodes per season, he’s even on the show less frequently than Kim and Park. Kim and Park are as much the face of “Hawaii Five-0” as Caan and O’Loughlin are, even if their call sheets don’t reflect that. CBS ought to recognize that — and invest in it.

In “Hawaii Five-O,” CBS produced a diverse cast and an inclusive narrative with commercial viability. This should be its ideal scenario. But now with the exits of Kim and Park the Eye runs the risk of torpedoing its own success story. Geller said that the network knew it needed to do better. Apparently CBS is still finding it hard at times to put its money where its mouth is.

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  1. Leigh Frizzell says:

    I think CBS needs to rethink their negotiations with Kim and Park – After watching this past season – they were on the screen more then as the Danny character was. The show is just not going to be the same and I’m afraid your rates will drop

  2. Nancy says:

    Why would they want to mess with a show that has high ratings with the actors Kim and Park.

  3. Miriam Burns says:

    I would give them what they want. These actors are an integral part of Hawaii 5-0 and the show will be much less interesting without them. What I have admired about the show is that it uses so many Asians which provides a real sense of authenticity. If CBS wants to show diversity, please reverse your decision and ask these actors to return.

  4. Annie says:

    Well CBS has screwed up again. Absolutely no reason not to give these two original cast members (Grace Park and Daniel Dae Kim) what they are asking for. Company greed, is my guess.

  5. Patrick says:

    They should pay Grace Park anything she wants. She is beautiful and the only reason I watch this show. Please get her back. The show won’t be watchable without her.

  6. Sharay Knight says:

    I myself just recently started watching this show on Netflix and I love it. It’s action packed and kept me entertained. I am very saddened to see Kono and Chin Ho Kelly leave. The show just won’t be the same anymore. They could of replaced cry baby Danny Williams because he gets on my last nerve. He is not a very good actor to me. The rest of the cast I can deal with. I will start watch Season 8 but if it’s boring sorry Hawaii-FiveO!!!

  7. Andrea Mah says:

    Unbelievable! Some of these comments are laughable. Real cops, no story line, CBS should wake up etc.
    You wake up ” sofa commandos” it’s never just cut and dried. I do see two talented actors ” cutting their nose off to spite their face” sad really. They will be known as the two Asians who quit because they wanted to be paid the white wage. I’m so sick of that racial card being pulled when things don’t go your way. Cop out. Pardon the pun
    You are quitters bottom line. Months from now no one will care.
    You shot yourself in the foot as well as saboteurs of your own careers. This you can blame on yourselves not CBS.
    Looking forward to Season 8

    • GoodByeHawaii5-0:2.0 says:

      Shame on you Andrea Mah for condemning these two wonderful actors as “quitters” for standing up for what is right. Why shouldn’t these talented actors who are as much if not more of the face of Hawaii 5-0 and much more talented than the lead actors, and represent the majority heritage if Hawaii be paid the same as the white actors? Their roles are really those of main characters and are much more interesting than the three stooges act of the two “main” actors. They did right to walk out and stand up for themselves 100%. I won’t be watching Season 8- CBS can stuff it! It is not Hawaii 5-0 with no one who represents the majority of the people of Hawaii on the show.

  8. goodbye H50 says:

    Let face it Kono and Chin help drive the show as much as Steve and Danny. Over the past 7 year Steve and Danny may have driven the procedural aspect of the show. But when it come to the personal aspect of the show it was Kono and Chin that drove the story most of the time. Beside the Steve & Catherine relationship and Danny, his ex-wife and their kids, these 2 character haven nothing entertaining about their personal storylines. Most of the time I even forget that these to have new girlfriend. They are rarely on the show and extremely boring when they are (not saying the actresses are bad just the storyline). A procedural without a personal aspect can only be entertain for so long before every terrorist attacks, murders, drug trafficking, sex-trafficking storyline get repetitive and predictable. The one thing the brings people back week after week is the need to see how these characters grow over time. To watchKono and her husbands relationship grow and the hurdles they had to endure or Chin second change with his ex-wife and how he survived losing her to find love again and what will happen in that new relationship and the added complicating of his niece is what brings people back after 7 years. And now, all that’s left is the procedure aspect and the always predictable bickering between Steve and Danny.

  9. Tim says:

    I won’t be watching without Kono. Get rid of Caan nobody likes him!

  10. Robert Vincent says:

    As a long time fan it is sad to recognize that this change will be the beginning of the end of this series. Losing 2 main characters at the same time a third character has negotiated less shows changes this series from Hawaii 50 to the Steve Mcgarrett show. Understanding that characters come and go in a series (see MASH) and are still successful, I don’t believe Hawaii 50 is strong enough to weather that storm. I hope I am wrong. love the show as it is

  11. Terence Day says:

    I get it. All Asians look alike in the CBS executive suite. I’m sure it was decided to keep the characters and get rid of the actors. After all, who will notice? My Japanese wife and all her friends read Ruben Navarrette’s column this morning. Any Asian who reads that column will declare CBS dead to them.

  12. Thank you for not treating Park and Kim as though they’ve done something wrong! As far as I’m concerned, CBS “screwed the pooch”!!

  13. suzan yee says:

    There is no doubt the racism that continues to exist against Asians; but as long as the ASian Communitiy doesn’t stand up like Black Americans do; the media will continue to wield his financial power; tCBS has no clue the issue of racism, nor do they care.
    Suzan Yee

  14. Mavis Aguinaga says:

    CBS should wake up and recognize that all four characters are seen as a team. Why differentiate when it comes to salaries.

  15. george says:

    WHO CARES, it’s another cookie cutter bubble gum, nonsense tv show. Real cops don’t see as much action in their 20-30 yr career as these jerks do in 1 night. They actually get stabbed, shot, beat half to death, and are up and running in the next scene. Try making a real show with real police work, no one would watch, it’s freaking boring. Arrests are planned out weeks in advance, there are no shoot outs with automatic weapons, or hand grenades every 10 minutes. If a cop pulles his gun out more that a half dozen times on 30 years, it would be highly unususal, most never do even once.
    Ands no one walks around in daylight with a Tac light/laser on the end of their pistol.

  16. Jana J. Monji says:

    What is particularly sad is that the other two white actors, Alex O’Loughlin and Scott Caan, didn’t support Daniel Dae Kim and Grace Park.

  17. LANCE says:

    I am so BUMMED OUT knowing DANIEL and GRACE have chosen to EXIT HAWAII 5-0, but I
    completely understand and support their tough decision. Admittedly, I am Asian and HAWAII
    is my AINA, chosen place of SACRED BIRTH. So, I am always stoked to see talented Asian
    actors / actresses with whom I can readily identify on the BIG SCREEN and TV. Don’t get me
    wrong, like many others I will quickly dismiss marginal actors / actresses no matter what culture
    they embody / live / project, despite any and all accolades they may have garnered from the host
    culture they most assuredly emulate . . .
    There comes a time when our maturity / humanity / evolution presses upon us the need to rise
    above the unadulterated quest for more money vs. the prime principal that dictates equality.
    DANIEL and GRACE could have easily settled for anything CBS was willing to throw to them, and quickly run like thieves in the night to their nearest bank(s) while gushing all over themselves. But
    the cost for ADMISSION to the TEMPLE OF PRINCIPLE runs high and most refuse to pay it . . .

    They were standing on the top of the big mountain but chose to walk away from this one. I suspect they reflected upon their long and arduous climb in this business and rembered what
    is whispered in all our ears, “ALWAYS REMEMBER, WE PROUDLY STAND ON THE SHOULDERS
    OF THOSE WHO CAME BEFORE US.” It is here, where we recount our past and project into our
    future the hopes and dreams of others who are less fortunate. And, fortune dictates we speak
    for ALL OF US . . .
    When PETER speaks so endearingly of his HAWAII 5-0 OHANA, I must remind myself he must be
    referring to some white family with 2 Asian kids (who will never measure up?). Fact of the matter
    is DANIEL and GRACE have proven to hold their own against any member on the 5-0 CAST!
    Anyway, I will personally miss DANIEL and GRACE’S 5-0 screen presence and acting prowess to
    be sure, but moreso for their unspoken integrity and wholesome centeredness . . .
    And, the COSMOS will continue to GRACE them with more of the success they richly deserve
    and quietly claim . . .
    SO, THANK YOU HAWAII 5-0 PRODUCERS, DIRECTORS, CAST & CREW FOR ALL YOUR CHARGED
    SEASONS, FILMED HERE IN BEAUTIFUL HAWAII * * * * * * *

  18. Scott Caan, like why is this guy on the show, he never does anything.

  19. Ok crusty says:

    Kono and chin are the only reason to watch the show. Danny and McGarret are whiney children that waste screen time acting like snowflakes and being stupid.
    Well, last season I watch this show.

  20. Sct says:

    If it wasn’t a great production/writers/directors/sets/location……….hawaii…………
    actors are just a part of it here.
    Even tho the four actors are big faves,
    give it rest with the nickel and dime details.
    Thousands of actors will never even get a job, spent big money on acting majors and yrs in small theatre.
    Please don’t burden us with such offense.
    Take it up with the unions that are paid
    to protect what is here promoted as unfair treatment.

    • Frank says:

      One would question why the agents of the two big stars wouldn’t fear a change would ruin their clients success profile if the show takes a dive.
      Haha get it a dive in Hawaii. Haha.

  21. Michah Gunn says:

    Suicide Squad was an ensemble cast. Who got paid most?

    Will Smith or Jai Courtney?

  22. Michah Gunn says:

    “Pay parity” with its white stars? While fine characters and actors, if Grace Park’s character disappeared tomorrow Hawaii-Five-0 carries on regardless. She is NOT the star of the show.

    If McGarrett and Danno disappear the show ends.

    • RK Suttle says:

      Your comment about going back in a ‘time machine’ clearly indicates you don’t understand how reboots work. Part of the appeal of rebooting a show is to update & modernise and also to change things. We’re talking about a TV show, not revising history. The fact is, they should really have used this show as an opportunity to reflect cultural diversity far more & would have gained, not lost anything, by changing the ethnicity of the 2 central cast members you seem think ‘have’ to be white men. It’s been done successfully elsewhere (Lucy Liu playing Dr. Watson for example). There isn’t exactly a shortage of white make heterosexual lead characters. If you are so dedicated to the original series then watch that not the modernised version – CBS needs to drag itself into the 21st century & reflect the diversity of the real world!

  23. jakking says:

    If CBS offered “large and generous” increased to the non-white actors and yet still failed to match what they were paying the white stars, clearly the two Hawaiians must have been grossly underpaid for the previous seasons.

    • Michah Gunn says:

      Grace Park was born in LA and is Canadian having lived there since 22 months

      Daniel Dae Kim was born in South Korea and grew up in Pennsylvania.

      Neither is from Hawaii. They only appropriate that persona. It’s called acting.

      • Michah Gunn says:

        I answered your point elsewhere. But I’ll reiterate just for you. Not that I really care about people who earn 100x what I earn anyway over people who earn 95x what I earn.

        Grace and Daniel are NOT the stars of the show. That’s the actors who play McGarrett and Danno. End of story. Hawaii Five-0 is McGarrett and Danno. Sorry. Let’s go back in a time machine and rewrite it shall we?

        A bit like Will Smith was star of Suicide Squad. Over say white actor Jai Courtney. Which was why Smith earned the most on that movie. STAR — get it? Co-Star less money. Get it.

        Also — YOU claimed erroneously that Park and Kim were native Hawaiians. Own your ignorance.

      • jakking says:

        Ignoring my point entirely.

  24. Robert K. Blair says:

    Done and done… Get a clue, CBS.

    • Michah Gunn says:

      Grace Park was born in LA and is Canadian having lived there since 22 months

      Daniel Dae Kim was born in South Korea and grew up in Pennsylvania.

      Neither is from Hawaii.

  25. justmega says:

    Kim & Park both had higher value at the start of the show. WTF is O’Laughing(Stock)? Caan? Midget son of a washed up actor who reached his zenith with a supporting role in the Oceans series. Big Deal! Kim & Park were coming off very succesful shows so they had goodwill coming in. Yet, the 2 ‘worth less’ actors were given larger pay packages with back end deals.

    Ultimately, the ratings will show who was in the right. If the show maintains its ratings, K&P were wrong. If it drops,…

  26. james r langworthy says:

    Danny is the best character in the series, and Park is second. Come on CBS, recognize the stars.

  27. Apres says:

    If & when, CBS brings them back, remember, its not just salary equality, its also the POINTS ON THE BACKEND is what this fight is really about. Future residuals until the cows come home.

  28. Lrc says:

    You ruin criminal minds and now Hawaii 5-0. What are thinking oh you’re not!!!!!

  29. Diane Penrod says:

    I have enjoyed watching Hawaii Five-O because of the beautiful location but also of what Daniel Dae Kim & Grace Park brought to the show. They actually let you feel the culture & traditions of these beautiful islands. Without Daniel Dae Kim & Grace Park you just have another cop show. Re-instate with parity.

  30. Another Poster says:

    Dear CBS, Remember when you had to swallow your pride and bring back John Schneider and Tom Wopat in the Dukes of Hazzard, after thinking you could get anyone back to star on the show, and the ratings would remain the same? This is terrible publicity for CBS and either the ratings will stay the same, (meaning most people don’t care about the issue), the ratings drop like a rock and CBS decided season 8 is the last season, or the ratings drop and CBS admits they were wrong and spends some money to bring back Daniel Dae Kim and Grace Park. Either CBS is going to be like the greedy farmer who killed the goose who laid the golden eggs, or they are going to admit they made a mistake and try and fix the problem. Daniel Dae Kim and Grace Park should have been paid as much as Scott Caan, (another supporting actor), not as much as Alex O’Loughlin, the star of the program.

  31. Pam says:

    CBS just lost a fan of the show. Unless they reinstate the actors with parity. :(

  32. Aaron says:

    Bad move. Will stop watching. Kim and Park are essential to the show. It won’t be the same without.

  33. T. Taylor Simmons says:

    Well, there goes my time watching Hawaii 5-0″ … Daniel Dae Kim, and Ms Park, and other non-Whites on the show, are a big draw for me…Without them, the show is about two White guys living in “paradise”, who have guns and badges… This is not The Old Hawaii 5-O, where Asians or Hawaiians were only props…

  34. thepayne78 says:

    I honestly can not imagine the show without them, they were two of my favorite cast members.

  35. gustavo says:

    it is a shame to lose 2 of the main charpters that have been part of the show since the very first day. Please get them back

  36. Carmen Blakestad says:

    Well, I for one have just written to CBS and told them how I feel about this. If you’re pissed off about losing Chin and Kono, YOU need to let CBS know too! If we band together, we can get these 2 back on the show and end this stupidity.

    I sent mine through CBS feedback, but if anyone has a more direct line to get them to bring them back, let everyone know, PLEASE! I’d gladly write 100 letters to get the cast restored. Please do the same so we can have a great show back in its’ groove again!

    I for one am tired of good shows being ruined by DUMB decisions.

  37. Jeanne says:

    The show will not be the same without Kim & Park. Those 2 are a major part of the dynamics of the 5 O team. Supporting cast? I think not! Leave the entire cast in place. I could easily become a previous viewer.

  38. Wendy says:

    Kim and Park are not supporting characters. They are equal, if not more significant members of an ensemble cast. The two white characters are insipid and the actors are talentless. Park and Kim are the more compellingly characters and the better actors. Cudos for using that power to bring attention to this inequality. The CBS execs who blew this are, I’m sure, a group of white older men who can’t get past their own racism and it will cost them a hit show.

  39. Mary says:

    Seriously? This sucks. I love Chin and Kono and it’s hard to imagine the show without them. (Although I do think asking for parity with O’Loughlin is a bit much: he’s clearly the star of the show.)

  40. Claudette says:

    Has CBS lose their minds, what makes you think Hawaii Five O will last without Actors Daniel Dae Kim and Grace Park. We need to get pass this race thing. Shame on CBS.

  41. macman2 says:

    Hawaii, a state that is majority Asian, without its lead Asian actors?? WTF?? Black eye for CBS.

    • nbtx says:

      They chose not to come back, They are NOT the lead actors, like it or not. This has nothing to do with race.

      • Lorraine Kaija says:

        They have equal or more time than the “main” characters. Yes, they are the stars because it is an ensemble cast. That is what makes the magic and with them gone, it should be in Chicago or Denver….. They should have been paid as such…

        ________________________________

  42. Kim G Miller says:

    I hate to see Kim and Park leave the show. Their parts in this program are just as important as the others and they deserve to be paid the same. I like them better than any other on the show. They leave and so will I.

    Kiim

  43. Leona Freerksen says:

    I can’t believe Daniel Dae Kim & Grace Park are not going to be on Hawaii Five-O! They are an intricate part of the show. I’ve loved the comradeship between the team…CBS really messed up!! I’m saddened to see them go.

  44. Jim Hill (RCMP) ret. says:

    Daniel Dae Kim and Grace Park are 10 times the actors that Scott Caan is! Caan is riding on his father’s coat tails. In this house we would not be sorry to see him take a job on the mainland where he can blend in. My wife would much rather see Caan shipped off to a different Country to a show that is not shown here! Why is it that the people who make the decisions in these matters seem to be blind to the fact that the majority of the people around them in these shows are not white. When the majority of the people in this State are native to the area then the show should represent that! Caan comes across as a non stop whiner! I would not want to have to be in a car with him any longer than 5 minutes

  45. I don’t watch the show, but my mother does. Interestingly, the news that Kim and Park plan to leave brought into focus the fact that they are the two in the main cast that she likes. She’d always had pointed little jabs to say about McLoughlin and Caan, as well as memories of her own father refusing to watch the original in the 70’s due to the Eurocentric casting set in America’s least white state. But it never truly sunk in that the Kim/Park combo saves the show (for her at least) until now. VERY bad call CBS.

  46. william bob says:

    IF they are supporting characters that’s ridiculous to think they should get the same pay as the Main stars.. the heros ? – really.. Gimme a break. And… is this an article or an editorial ?

    • Michael Dennis says:

      Thank God! Someone who thinks when they post a comment! Brother, you’re in the minority here, but it’s nice to know sanity is present and not everyone carries a protest sign.

  47. IR Antonio says:

    Immensely disappointed in the current situation of letting go both Daniel Dae Kim and Grace Park. Born and raised in Maui; I watched Hawaii 5-0 religiously every season. I was on location and wanted to meet them before I deployed to Afghanistan; I just thought I’d give it a shot; I get they can’t always see fans. But this Blue Falcon move is a NO GO; I will no longer watch it. This is a slap to face of every fan of the show of Asian descent. They both potrayed Locals very well. This may be a beginning of the end.

    • Michael Dennis says:

      What does “Locals” mean? There are people of all colors and races in Hawaii.

      • KitM says:

        Although I like the two actors (Grace Park and Daniel Dae Kim) concerned and have watched the first few seasons, but not recently, I felt that Alex O’ Loughlin and Scott Caan were the main two actors on the show and should be paid more money. Undoubtedly DDK and Grace accepted this when they signed and have accepted this for seven seasons.

        So for season 8 they want parity. Are they as high profile as Alex O’ Loughlin or Scott Caan so that they can now be viewed as an ensemble of equals in terms of contribution, prominence, talent and fame?

        If one is casting a new show and these four actors were vying for the lead would you consider all the actors to be worth the same?

        I have always felt they were supporting actors. Losing both is a loss particularly when these are the characters who reflect the spirit of aloha which is such an important part of the show and in projecting Hawaii to the wider public..

        However, I do think DDK and Grace were too ambitious in pushing for parity.

        You could ask the lead actors to agree to a pay cut to bridge the parity issue. Emma Stone, for example, has had success in getting actors to lower their quote so that she can get parity. I know actors on very successful tv shows can get paid a lot of money when the show goes into syndication and that there are options CBS have probably not explored in rewarding them in syndication.

        Introducing ome type of legacy reward might induce these two to continue without much immediate cost and without the risk of disintegrating the success and popularity of the show that might result from the loss of these two actors.

  48. anita says:

    Well I won’t be watching the show next season. CBS you cut your own throat. What a stupid thing to do when they are so popular.

  49. Margaret Harris-Lawler says:

    Not a smart move CBS. I will most likely stop watching. Even with all the recognition and acknowledgment that you need to do better in this area, yet you still won’t do the right thing. This is unfortunate. Hats off and the utmost respect to the two actors who walked away. Employers need to start paying people their true worth. Shame on you CBS. Put your money where your mouth is. Do the right thing and bring them back…

  50. Terry Shirey says:

    There is no way I can possibly watch Hawaii 5-0 without Daniel Dae Kim and Grace Park. They are an extremely important part of this show and I can’t imagine the show doing well without them. The season finale ended with Grace Park flying off to the mainland to continue her fight……I guess that ending will be changed. I won’t know as I won’t be watching.

    CBS you surely are making a VERY HUGE MISTAKE letting these two very important characters go! Your numbers will definitely show your mistake!

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