Daniel Dae Kim Responds to 'Hawaii Five-0' Controversy

HAWAII FIVE-0 - Daniel Dae Kim and Grace Park -Publicity-H 2017
Courtesy of CBS

Daniel Dae Kim made his first public remarks about his exit from CBS' Hawaii Five-0 and the controversy that arose after the network declined to offer salary parity for the actor and co-star Grace Park.

Kim and Park, who were both series regulars on the procedural's first seven seasons, made the decision to leave the series ahead of its upcoming eighth season after the network and producers CBS Television Studios did not offer them the same deals as white co-stars Alex O'Loughlin and Scott Caan.

"That was a really important part of my life for seven years, and I'm really grateful to CBS and everyone involved with the show for giving me the opportunity. I've known [CBS Entertainment president Kelly] Kelly and [CBS' senior exec vp programming] Thom Sherman for a while, I met Thom all the way back from the days on Lost. I know them and I like them, and I'm grateful to them for the words that they said on the panel the other day. That said, it's possible to be grateful for the opportunity and respectful of the colleagues and the people that I work with and still maintain a steadfast sense of your self-worth," Kim told reporters Sunday at the Television Critics Association's summer press tour, where he was supporting ABC's The Good Doctor (which he executive produces). "All good things come to an end. I close that chapter on Hawaii Five-0 and I begin this new chapter on The Good Doctor. And I couldn’t be more excited to be back at ABC where I started my career in earnest and to be working with such incredible people. This is the start of something new, and I'm really grateful for that, too." 

A CBS insider in July stressed that Kim and Park's contract dispute had nothing to do with race. Kim, the source asserted, was offered a raise to come within 2 percent of what Caan and O'Loughlin make — minus the duo's lucrative points of the show's backend. Negotiations with Park, meanwhile, were complicated by the actress' desire to only do a handful of episodes and be written out of the show. But the CBS source noted a substantial increase was still offered to her.

"Not going to talk specifics of the deal or the negotiation. We love both those actors and did not want to lose them. We made very, very strong attempts to keep them and offered them a lot of money to stick around," Kahl told reporters earlier this week at TCA. "We wanted them to stick around. It’s an unfortunate byproduct of having a successful, long-running show, that sometimes you lose castmembers. We didn’t want it to happen, but it’s happened on CSI. It’s happened on Grey’s Anatomy, Law & Order: SVU. Pretty much any network who’s had a successful, long-running show, at some point there’s some cast turnover. We didn’t want it to happen. We tried our darnedest to keep them."

In a heartfelt post on his Facebook page shortly after the news went viral, Kim revealed that he wanted to return for Hawaii Five-0's upcoming eighth season, but after he asked for salary parity with co-stars O'Loughlin and Caan, CBS and CBSTVS could not come to terms that worked for both stars. Sources note the duo's offer came in less than that of O'Loughlin and Caan, who both have a cut of the show's lucrative backend.

In a note on his Facebook page, Kim thanked fans, the cast, crew and creative team and singled out how important playing Chin Ho was to him: "As an Asian-American actor, I know first-hand how difficult it is to find opportunities at all, let alone play a well-developed, three-dimensional character like Chin Ho. I will miss him sincerely. … [T]hough transitions can be difficult, I encourage us all to look beyond the disappointment of this moment to the bigger picture. The path to equality is rarely easy."

CBS' Kahl and his top lieutenant Sherman were hammered on the network's lack of inclusive casting and male-dominated lineup issues during their time before the press at TCA. "We are absolutely moving in the right direction," Kahl said, citing a 60 percent lift in non-white series regulars and ongoing efforts to include more people of color behind the scenes. "We are making progress."

To make up for Kim and Park's departures, Hawaii Five-0 has enlisted Meaghan Rath, Beulah Koale and Ian Anthony Dale for season eight. Dale has recurred on Hawaii Five-0 since season two as Adam Noshimuri, the husband of Park's Kono and a trusted confidant and resource for the team who will now be recruited by McGarrett (O'Loughlin) to work for Five-0. 

Meanwhile, Kim told reporters he is content serving as an exec producer on The Good Doctor but has had talks with producers about a potential onscreen role as well. "I'm really content being behind the scenes on this show," Kim said. "At some point, I'd love to play with them. It'd be a nice opportunity. [Showrunner] David [Shore] and I have talked about it … but right now were working on the first few episodes." 

Following the panel, Kim was asked two pointed questions about how close CBS' offer was and if he'd ever return to Hawaii Five-0 and declined comment on both before he was rushed offstage and away from a pack of reporters.