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'Five-0' had hoped for MacArthur cameo in 'Champ box' mystery

By Mike Gordon

LAST UPDATED: 1:56 p.m. HST, Dec 14, 2010

The mystery in the "Champ box" was James MacArthur's to solve.

In case you haven't been closely following the new "Hawaii Five-0," that's the toolbox Steve McGarrett found in his father's garage during the pilot. There are secrets in the box with the Champion Spark Plugs decal, but after early-season hints about their significance, all of it seemed to fade away.

In truth, CBS was hoping that MacArthur — who played "Danno" in the original series — would guest-star as a longtime neighbor who helps unravel the mystery, said Peter Lenkov, one of the show's executive producers.

Unfortunately, MacArthur was in poor health as the show began to shoot episodes last summer and died Oct. 28 at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Fla.

"For the audience that watched the original show, it would be McGarrett working with Danno again," Lenkov said last week. "And Danno would be helping to solve the case, very much like the original show. And I sort of held out thinking that ultimately he would recuperate and join us on the show."

That story arc remains, though, and Lenkov still wants to wink at TV history.

"We are starting to do that story now," he said. "And I am going to cast it with another member of the original 'Hawaii Five-0.'"

Stay tuned.

LITTLE CHIN is back on "Five-0."

Last week, when Honolulu actor Dennis Chun stepped onto the set as police sergeant Duke Lukela, he breathed life into a nostalgic alchemy of family, friends and fiction.

Chun is the son of Kam Fong, who played Chin Ho Kelly in the original version of "Five-0." Whenever Chun was on set back in the day, MacArthur called him "Little Chin."

But the part of Lukela — an original "Five-0" character played by the late Herman Wedemeyer — will give Chun an indelible link to the show. How cool is that?

"I knew Herman, and he was a fantastic human being and a wonderful actor," Chun said. "It's an honor and rather humbling."

Chun isn't sure whether the part of Lukela will become a recurring role, but it's definitely a return trip to the show. Chun was in several episodes of the original series, appearing as a young gangster, a wounded cop and an ambulance driver. He also had a role as a doctor in the 1997 "Five-0" pilot that never aired.

His screen time will be precious no matter how long it lasts.

"I hope they are happy with it," he said. "I hope it helps the show and adds a little something to it. It was a great experience."

Chun's father was a real police officer for 16 years. When he left the department, he was given a tie clip bearing a miniature replica of his badge.

Chun wore the tie clip to the audition to honor his father, who died in 2002. He brought it to the set, too, but his character was dressed in a police uniform without a tie, so he put the memento in his chest pocket, "close to my heart."

He wore it for his father and for the friends he considered family.

"I just wanted to have the old gang with me," he said. "I feel the new group has done a real great job in giving a new image to 'Five-0,' and I think the old guy would want to be there to support them."

"ONE VOICE," a locally made documentary about the Kamehameha Schools song contest, received the Harrah's Rincon Audience Award at the 11th annual San Diego Asian Film Festival. It was the top choice out of 600 films viewed by audiences at the festival last month.

Produced by Pacific Islanders in Communications, it also took home the audience award for feature-length documentary at the 30th annual Hawaii International Film Festival.

AND that's a wrap.

Mike Gordon is the Star-Advertiser's film and television writer. His "Outtakes" column appears Sundays. E-mail him at

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