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CBS on ‘Hawaii Five-0’ Exits: Network Made ‘Large and Significant’ Salary Offers to Daniel Dae Kim, Grace Park

CBS offered “large and significant salary increases” to keep Daniel Dae Kim and Grace Park in the cast of “Hawaii Five-0,” the network said Wednesday after Kim said via Facebook that he was unable to come to a deal with CBS to return to the long-running series.

“Daniel and Grace have been important and valued members of “Hawaii Five-0” for seven seasons,” CBS said in a statement. “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.”

Kim lifted the veil on the dealmaking process with a Facebook post Wednesday  asserting that he was not able to come to terms with CBS on a deal and that “the path to equality is rarely easy.” It’s understood that Kim and Park sought pay parity with the series’ lead actors, Alex O’Loughlin and Scott Caan. The fact that Kim and Park are of Asian descent while O’Loughlin and Caan are Caucasian added an inevitable racial component to the situation at a time of heightened focus on diversity at all levels of the entertainment industry. CBS executives were said to be troubled by the suggestion from media coverage of Kim and Park’s departures that race played a role in a business negotiation.

Industry sources said O’Loughlin and Caan are making about $200,000 per episode apiece for the upcoming eighth season of the show, produced by CBS Television Studios. A source close to the situation said CBS’ last per-episode salary offer to Kim was about $5,000 apart from the two lead actors, and CBS offered to set a new overall deal with Kim’s 3AD production banner. However, sources close to Kim said the differential was more significant.

The dispute on the difference in compensation levels may hinge on the fact that O’Loughlin and Caan have a small share of the backend profits of the show. “Hawaii Five-0” commanded a lucrative $2 million-per-episode cable syndication deal with TNT in 2011, although the show turned out to be a lackluster performer for the cabler. It remains a successful property for CBS in international markets — all of which means O’Loughlin and Caan’s profit participation stakes probably plump up their take-home pay considerably. 

Park, meanwhile, was said to have sought a deal for less than half of a full season’s worth of episodes, which would have been a financially challenging prospect for the network at the salary that she sought. “Hawaii Five-0” delivered some 25 episodes in its most recent season.

Sources close to the situation noted that Kim and Park did not negotiate as a unit in their discussions with CBS. The final offer for Park was lower than that for Kim, according to a source.

From Kim and Park’s perspective, it’s clear that the lack of pay parity with O’Loughlin and Caan after seven seasons as central characters was a deal-breaker. Kim is also revving up his activity as a producer. His 3AD banner landed a new medical drama series on ABC for the coming season, “The Good Doctor,” starring Freddie Highmore.

From CBS’ perspective, Kim and Park remained supporting players and there was a need to adhere, for precedent’s sake, to a traditional differential between the job categories. The backend stakes that O’Loughlin and Caan commanded reflect the leverage that the two actors brought to the show when it was assembled in the 2009-2010 development cycle.

O’Loughlin and Caan have one more season to go on their contract with the show.

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