It’s been announced that Daniel Dae Kim and Grace Park, the two most prominent Asian actors of ‘Hawaii-Five-0‘, have exited the show and will not feature in the eighth season…
News broke over the weekend that two of the stars of Hawaii Five-0 will not be back when the show returns for an eighth season in September. Daniel Dae Kim and Grace Park have formally left the CBS show after being with the revamped modern version of the action series since the first episode.
Given the fact that the two actors were the only regular Asian members of the cast, a few eyebrows were raised and even reports of blatant racism were muttered by fans online as an explanation. While it’s unlikely that’s quite as obtuse or direct a reason as some have claimed, there are reports (via respected industry site Variety) that the two stars have left over contract disputes and with the interesting revelation that both Kim and Park were getting salary offers that were still 10-15% lower than co-stars such as Alex O’Loughlin and Scott Caan.
It’s not unusual for shows to pay some performers more than others – especially when workloads differ or an actor is perceived to have more prominence and previous successes to bring to the table. O’Loughlin had hits such as Moonlight and The Shield under his belt and was seen as the heart-throb attraction and Scott Caan (son of veteran James Caan) was known for projects such as Entourage and the Ocean’s… films. That being said, Daniel Dae Kim was already a mainstay of that other Hawaii-filmed show LOST and Park was a regular on the cult hit Battlestar Galactica, so neither were unknowns and both had strong, popular story-lines throughout the entire run. It’s usual for some sort of more equal and fair wage structure to be established the longer a show progresses but it appears that Park and Kim’s demands for parity reached an impasse and their contracts were not renewed.
Park’s character, Kono Kalakaua, took an unauthorised leave of absence to track down sex traffickers in the seventh season finale but it’s not clear how the absence of Kim’s character, Chin Ho Kelly, will be explained on camera – but possibly through the offer the character had to head up a task force in San Francisco.
Whatever the reasons and factors of the exit, the loss of Kim and Park from the show decreases the representation of Asian actors on primetime television significantly. Rumours continue to circulate that this next run could be the show’s final year, but that’s not been confirmed.