"Hawaii Five-O" showrunner Peter Lenkov weighed in on the exits of series regulars Grace Park and Daniel Dae Kim on Thursday.
In a statement posted on Twitter, Lenkov said, "Both actors chose not to extend their contracts. CBS was extremely generous and proactive in their renegotiation talks. So much so, the actors were getting unprecedented raises, but in the end they chose to move on. No one wanted to see them go–they are irreplaceable."
"In our 168 episodes, Hawaii Five-0 has and will continue to showcase one of the most diverse casts on TV: Chi McBride, Jorge Garcia, Mark Dacascos, Ian Anthony Dale, Will Yun Lee, Masai Oka, Dennis Chun, Taylor Wily, Shawn Garnett, Kimee Balmilero, Kekoa Kekumano, Shawn Anthony Thomsen, as well as Daniel and Grace ... all of these great talents regulars or recurring. I'm proud of that roster and of our show," Lenkov concluded. You can read the full statement below.
See photos of the "Hawaii Five-0" cast:
Last week, Variety reported that Kim and Park would be departing the CBS procedural ahead of its eighth season, due to a dispute with CBS Television Studios to reach pay equality with co-stars Alex O'Loughlin and Scott Caan. Kim and Park's departures have sparked a dispute over the level of deals that CBS put on the table for the veteran supporting actors. According to a source, Kim was offered a per episode salary that was about $5,000 less than the roughly $200,000 per episode commanded by series leads O'Loughlin and Caan. However, sources close to Kim said that the differential was larger. Park, on the other hand, was said to have sought a deal for less than half of a full season's worth of episodes, a financially challenging request given the salary hike she sought.
The departures of Park and Kim renewed criticism that CBS has a dearth of actors of color and female leads in its primetime lineup. On Thursday, U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-NY) weighed in with a statement critical of CBS.
"I am disturbed to hear reports that 'Hawaii Five-O' stars Daniel Dae Kim and Grace Park were not offered equal pay to their colleagues on the TV series," Meng wrote. "Kim and Park were principal characters on the show for seven seasons, and decided to leave after CBS reportedly offered them both a significantly lower salary than their fellow co-stars. Asian Americans already face many issues in Hollywood, including typecasting and whitewashing. The entertainment industry continues to struggle with accurately portraying Asian American stories and including diverse characters. Not paying artists fairly further increases these problems by putting up barriers for Asian American performers to break through in the industry. I call upon Hollywood studios and producers to address pay inequity, offensive stereotypes, and lack of Asian American representation on and off screen."
Park has remained silent on the matter, while Kim posted a message to fans on Facebook earlier this week. He wrote, "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. What made him even more special is that he was a representative of a place my family and I so dearly love. It has been nothing short of an honor to be able to showcase the beauty and people of Hawaii every week, and I couldn't be prouder to call these islands home. To my local community, mahalo nui loa."
Subscribe to Variety Newsletters and Email Alerts!