“Hawaii Five-0” producer Peter Lenkov is defending the network on which his series airs after news about a pay equity battle with two of the show’s actors went public.
In a statement, Lenkov said departing actors Daniel Dae Kim and Grace Park were offered “unprecedented” raises, but ultimately chose to move on.
“The truth is this: Both actors chose not to extend their contracts. CBS was extremely generous and proactive in their renegotiation talks,” Lenkov wrote in a statement posted to social media.
This echos a statement released by CBS late Wednesday, in which the network said it “tried very hard” to keep the actors, who were the most prominent actors of color on the series, by offering them “large and significant salary increases.”
The network’s statement came on the same day Kim broke his silence on his exit from “Hawaii Five-0.”
In a note posted to Facebook, the actor expressed thanks to the show’s producers and network.
“Though I made myself available to come back, CBS and I weren’t able to agree to terms on a new contract, so I made the difficult choice not to continue,” wrote Kim, who was on the show for seven seasons.
“I’m so sorry we won’t be continuing this journey together,” he added.
On “Hawaii Five-0,” Kim played Lt. Chin Ho Kelly, a member of the Five-0 team and longtime friend of McGarrett (O’Loughlin). The character was played by actor Kam Fong in the 1968 series.
Park played Officer Kono Kalakaua, Kelly’s Cousin.
Kim and Park’s exits were announced last week and came after the two were offered new salary contracts that were 10-15% less than what series stars Alex O’Loughlin and Scott Caan are paid, according to Variety.
Kim loosely referenced his battle over pay in the note.
“The path to equality is rarely easy,” he wrote. “But I hope you can be excited for the future. I am.”
Kim said he has new acting projects in the works. He is also a producer on an upcoming ABC series starring Freddie Highmore called “The Good Doctor.”
In his note, Kim said he felt “grateful” for being allowed to bring the character 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,” he said. “I will miss him sincerely.”
“Hawaii Five-0” returns for its eighth season in fall.