The National Hispanic Media Coalition, a media advocacy and civil rights organization, is not letting CBS off the hook for losing two Asian leads over a pay dispute.
Daniel Dae Kim and Grace Park recently quit the network’s reboot of “Hawaii Five-0” after seven seasons. Sources told Variety the decision came after the actors asked the network for pay equal to their white co-stars, Alex O’Loughlin and Scott Caan, but were offered 10 to 15 percent less.
NHMC President and CEO Alex Nogales called out CBS after news of Kim and Park’s exit came to light. In a press statement, Nogales cited a recent Los Angeles Times article that criticized the network for casting mostly white male leads in its upcoming new shows.
“In 2017, the fact that we’re still fighting for equal and fair representation on a major television network is extremely problematic and changes must come about,” Nogales wrote in the statement, released Friday.
Speaking with LA Weekly, Nogales went a step further in his critique and warned that losing Kim and Park would have repercussions.
“Given the networks’ record in terms of diversity, the loss at ′Hawaii Five-0′ is incredibly ill-advised,” Nogales told the outlet in a piece published Monday. “I think it’s reckless. It’s going to cost them with the Asian community and with other communities of color.”
“When you have four people and they’re all talked about in the same breath, and you’ve not compensated them as the rest, it’s bigoted,” he added.
Kim and Park portrayed Chin Ho Kelly and Kono Kalakaua, respectively, in the “Hawaii Five-0” reboot since it first aired in 2010. Both of their characters have major roles in the series. Variety reports their absence in the show’s upcoming eighth season will be addressed in the season premiere episode.
Kim confirmed his departure to fans via a Facebook post on July 5. The actor said he and CBS were not “able to agree to terms on a new contract.” While the actor didn’t reference a pay dispute explicitly, he did mention “equality” while discussing his departure.
“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,” Kim wrote. “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.”
“I’ll end by saying that though transitions can be difficult, I encourage us all to look beyond the disappointment of this moment to the bigger picture,” Kim added. “The path to equality is rarely easy.”
In response, CBS told Variety that the network had offered the actors “significant” salary raises, though no mention was made as to how the proposed figure compared to O’Loughlin’s and Caan’s salaries.
“Daniel and Grace have been important and valued members of ‘Hawaii Five-0’ for seven seasons,” CBS said in the 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.”