Here’s a question for you, TV fans: if a long running drama series essentially has four leading characters, then shouldn’t they all get the same pay rate? Think back to Hawaii Five-0‘s first season on CBS. Leading man, Alex O’Loughlin was coming off of a few failed projects like Moonlight, while Scott Caan was best known for a small role on Entourage. Daniel Dae Kim was emerging from six seasons on Lost, while Grace Park had a major role on the Battlestar Galactica reboot. That ensemble arguably made the Hawaii Five-0 reboot work, but now it’s been cut in half over a pay dispute.
Variety is reporting that Park and Kim have exited the series ahead of the eighth season because CBS refused to grant them equal pay with Caan and O’Loughlin. According to that report, the final offer to Park and Kim came in 10 to 15% lower than the rate of their co-stars. Therefore, both of their characters will be immediately written out of the series, with only a reference made to their absence in the eighth season premiere.
In a statement to Variety, a CBS spokesperson said “We are so appreciative of Daniel and Grace’s enormous talents, professional excellence, and the aloha spirit they brought to each and every one of our 168 episodes. They’ve helped us build an exciting new Hawaii Five-0, and we wish them all the best and much success in their next chapters. Mahalo and a hui hou.”
This is bulls***. Admittedly, I stopped watching Hawaii Five-0 several seasons ago, so I can’t speak to the quality of the series now. But when I was watching, Park and Kim were absolutely two of the show’s biggest draws. They are integral to the series and their exit creates a huge void that won’t be easily filled. Regardless of whether Caan and O’Loughlin can carry the show by themselves, this seems like a shortsighted decision that is sure to please no one.
The producers of the show have opened themselves up to charges of racism, because the white stars were getting paid more than the Asian-American stars. That’s the narrative that’s going around Hollywood over this Fourth of July weekend. But on a more basic level, it simply isn’t fair to Park and Kim as performers. Their track records in TV far exceed those of their co-stars, and they deserve to share in the success that they helped create with this series. Fans of the show are probably not going to be happy that two of their favorite characters are leaving without even getting a proper farewell.
Television is a business, and this may have simply been a business decision. However, CBS apparently misjudged the way that its actions could be perceived and may have even risked the long term future of the series just for some short term budget relief. It’s ultimately going to come down to the fans. If they accept the series without Park and Kim, then it may continue for a ninth season. But if fans reject it, then this is where the end began.
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