Hawaii Five-O lost actors Daniel Dae Kim and Grace Park after they were reportedly unable to come to an agreement with CBS over a salary increase that would bring them up to the same level as their white coworkers Alex O’Loughlin and Scott Caan. The network is now defending the negotiations by claiming they offered them quite a lot of money, actually.
The Hollywood Reporter shared a statement from CBS that claims there was an offer on the table for “significant salary increases”—which sounds good, but not as a good as “equal pay.”
“Daniel and Grace have been important and valued members of Hawaii Five-0 for seven seasons,” CBS said Wednesday 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.”
Daniel Dae Kim posted a message to Facebook on Wednesday saying goodbye to the show and fans, with far more graciousness than one might expect under the circumstances. He took a moment to thank CBS and acknowledge the difficulties Asian actors often face in Hollywood:
I also want to say thank you to Peter Lenkov, Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci and everyone at CBS. I will always be grateful for their faith in me to bring Chin Ho Kelly to life. 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.
A “CBS insider” told THR that the contract friction was not about race, but about their status within the show: Park, the insider claimed, wanted eventually to be written off the show, and Kim’s raise as a supposed “supporting actor” would have brought him up to within two percent of what Caan and O’Loughlin make. However, Caan and O’Loughlin also receive “lucrative” points on the show, which don’t appear to have been offered to Kim.
“The path to equality is rarely easy,” Kim wrote in his Facebook message, “But I hope you can be excited for the future. I am.”