Anonymous sources first told Variety on Friday (June 30) that Grace Park ("Battlestar Galactica") and Daniel Dae Kim ("Lost"), two of Hollywood’s most famous actors of Korean descent, left their starring roles on CBS’ "Hawaii Five-0" after the network wouldn’t pay them as much as White co-stars Alex O’Loughlin ("Three Rivers") and Scott Caan ("Entourage"). Kim and CBS’ statements since then have done little to dispel suggestions that the network, like much of Hollywood, refuses to pay actors of color as much as White ones.
Variety reported that Park and Kim’s salary deals for the show’s forthcoming eight season were 10 to 15 percent lower than those for O’Loughlin and Caan. Kim did not mention a specific number in his Facebook post yesterday (July 5), but did say that he and CBS couldn’t agree on contract terms and that "the path to equality is rarely easy." Click below to read the full statement.
CBS told The Hollywood Reporter (THR) and other outlets that it "tried very hard to keep [Park and Kim on] with offers for large and significant salary increases." An anonymous source elaborated on these alleged offers to THR, saying that they had nothing to do with race:
Kim, the source stressed, was offered a raise to come within 2 percent of what Caan and O’Loughlin make—minus the duo’s lucrative points of the show’s back end. Negotiations with Park, meanwhile, were complicated by the actress’ desire to only do a handful of episodes and be written out of the show. But the CBS source noted a substantial increase was still offered to her.
Park has not yet publicly commented on the controversy.
Regardless of what happened behind the scenes, a procedural police show set in the only state where Asian-Americans make up the largest ethnic group will return in September with zero Asian leads. This situation underscores Hollywood’s larger problems with equity and representation on both sides of the camera. A November USA Today analysis grading five broadcast networks’ diversity practices ranked CBS the worst, owing in large part to its then-recent introduction of six shows headlined by White men.