After Daniel Dae Kim confirmed earlier this week that his decision to leave Hawaii Five-0 was motivated by pay inequality, showrunner Peter M. Lenkov released a statement on Twitter defending both CBS and the show itself. Kim and co-star Grace Park both declined to return to Hawaii Five-0 for an eighth season after contract renegotiations failed, reportedly because both actors were being offered significantly less than the show’s white stars. But Lenkov defended the network in his statement: “CBS was extremely generous and proactive in their renegotiation talks,” he said. “So much so, the actors were getting unprecedented raises, but in the end they chose to move on.”
Even those “unprecedented raises” would evidently not have given Kim and Park parity with the show’s white stars, Alex O’Loughlin and Scott Caan; while the details of the negotiations have not been made public, Variety reports that the final offers made to Kim and Park were still 10–15 percent lower than what Loughlin and Caan are being paid. A source tells the Hollywood Reporter that Kim’s contract came within 2 percent of his white co-stars’ salaries but without accounting for the additional money O’Loughlin and Caan make on the back end.
Park has not spoken publically about her decision to leave the show, but Lenkov suggests in his statement that she left to spend more time with her family. He was noticeably silent on Kim’s reason for leaving. Both actors have been with Hawaii Five-0 since it premiered in 2010.
Lenkov ended his statement by listing the names of more than a dozen actors who play regular or recurring roles on Hawaii Five-0 and calling the cast “one of the most diverse” on TV. It’s worth noting, though, that Hawaii Five-0 isn’t being criticized for a lack of diversity but because the show’s actors of color are evidently being paid less than white castmembers. Nowhere in his statement does Lenkov suggest that that is untrue.
Lenkov’s full statement is below.