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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, May 18, 2010

'Hawaii Five-0' redux receives green light from network

BY Mike Gordon
Advertiser Staff Writer

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

“Hawaii Five-0” original cast members — from left, Zulu, James MacArthur and Kam Fong — attended a “Five-0” convention in 1996 in Burbank, Calif. Zulu, who played Kono Kalakaua, and Fong, who played Chin Ho Kelly, have since passed away.


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Cue the drum roll and the horn section, CBS has booked 'em, Danno. "Hawaii Five-0" is back.

Network executives were so enthralled with the recently completed pilot for a "Five-0" series remake that they gave the green light to the modern version of the beloved crime series, said Georja Skinner, administrator for the state's creative services division, which oversees the Hawai'i Film Office.

Neither the number of episodes ordered nor the premiere date have been announced, but pre-production work will begin in the Islands in June, with filming expected to begin in July, Skinner said yesterday after receiving word from the network.

"This is a legendary moment in time," she said. " 'Five-0' returns to its roots in Hawai'i."

The original series, which ran from 1968 to 1980, was the first to be shot entirely on location. It starred the stoic Jack Lord as Detective Steve McGarrett, but each week it also gave Hawai'i a supporting role like no other series ever had.

A pilot for the modern version was shot here in March and featured such talented creators as Peter Lenkov of "CSI: New York," and Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci, who had teamed up on feature films that include "Star Trek" and "Mission Impossible III."

The new McGarrett will be played by Alex O'Loughlin. Sidekick Danno Williams will be played by Scott Caan, Chin Ho Kelly will be played by "Lost" regular Daniel Dae Kim, and in a real departure from the original series, Kono Kalakaua will be played by a woman — Grace Park.


"Five-0" will arrive just as ABC's "Lost" departs. The immensely popular "Lost," filmed mostly in Hawai'i, poured more than $400 million into the state's economy during its six-season run.

"What it means potentially for the economy is tremendous," Skinner said of the "Five-0" remake. " 'Hawai'i Five-0,' because it is present-day Hawai'i, provides us as a state with a tremendous opportunity to be in households across the United States on a weekly basis."

Exposure like that makes a network series "the Rolls Royce" of television, said Walea Constantinau, Honolulu Film Office commissioner. In general, a network will spend between $2 million and $2.5 million an episode, with two-thirds of that staying in the local economy, she said.

"To be able to have a new network television show, one as significant as 'Hawaii Five-0,' could not be better news," she said. "It's the most sought after thing for film commissioners around the world. The networks tend to have more viewers and devote more resources to making the project because they have more viewers."

But the knife cuts both ways in TV: The series would have to still generate high enough ratings to remain on the air.

"It can be a critical darling but in order to be a success, it has to attract viewers," Constantinau said. "Network television is still where the mass audiences gather in numbers you don't see anywhere else."

That means audiences of at least 10 million viewers, she said.

It's too soon, though, to know if the remake will have an impact on the local acting community. The original series relied heavily on Hawai'i actors and is credited with starting many careers, said Glenn Cannon, president of the Hawai'i branch of the Screen Actors Guild and a regular on the original series.

"They will certainly, without question, use background actors from Honolulu," he said. "Whether they will employ actors from here in major roles, guest-starring or to fill out the cast, is unknown at this point. Obviously, we hope they do."


Local stunt experts were already tapped for the pilot, helping out with gunfire, car crashes and scenes that required coordinated driving, said Colin C.L. Fong, vice-president and co-founder of the Hawaii Stunt Association. Fong was one of five stunt specialists who worked on the pilot.

"Any action series is going to hopefully give us a lot more work all across the board," he said. "I am sure we will work."

Scant plot details have surfaced about the modern "Five-0," but the storyline is said to be following the start of the elite crime-fighting unit and with it, the first assignments of its new boss — McGarrett.

"The filming went well," Fong said. "The writing sounds exciting. It should be a really powerful, exciting new series. I hope it stays a long time."

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