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On the set of 'Hawaii Five-0'

Production hums as the cast seizes its chance to own the reinvented show

By Mike Gordon

POSTED:
LAST UPDATED: 02:28 a.m. HST, Sep 14, 2010


There's been a murder. A surfer stretched out on the beach takes his last breath as a lifeguard, fingers covered in blood, pumps his chest. All around them a crowd of trim beachgoers, all abs and jiggly bikinis, stares in shock until the voice of authority intervenes.

"Cut!"

Here on location with the cast and crew of CBS Television's "Hawaii Five-0," the law of the land doesn't wear a badge. When director Matt Earl Beesley barks, people scurry. He's trying to capture a minute or so of screen time but he's been at this scene for almost an hour — and he's not finished yet.

When he is, several takes later, the applause on the set is genuine.

Shooting television is meticulous work and nowhere near as fun to watch as the finished product. A day on the set can last 12 hours. One day the cameras are in an alley and the next they're on a North Shore beach.

But the "Five-0" crew is on a mission, and to the last, each feels lucky to be part of a series that honors its legacy even as it seeks to forge a new identity. They've been working for weeks and are eager for feedback that will come tomorrow night, when CBS screens the pilot at Sunset on the Beach in Waikiki.

Alex O'Loughlin, the muscled, 6-foot-2 actor cast as the show's iconic lead, Steve McGarrett, has taken possession of the role made famous by Jack Lord. He is the alpha male in a cast that includes Scott Caan as his sidekick, Danny "Danno" Williams, Daniel Dae Kim as Chin Ho Kelly and Grace Park as Kono.

O'Loughlin, 34, is optimistic about the series.

"I think it's a very good show in the sense that it is a very balanced show," he said during a break in shooting Wednesday near Ehukai Beach. "It has the three big Cs in television: character, crime and comedy."

HE KNOWS THE comparisons to the original are inevitable. "Five-0" was one of the longest-running police dramas in TV history and is still shown regularly in syndication. Its stars were fixtures in the Hawaii community during the show's life from 1968 to 1980.

O'Loughlin, whose previous CBS shows, "Moonlight" and "Three Rivers," had short runs, said he deliberately steered away from the original as preparation for "my McGarrett."

"It's a different show, it's a new show, it's a new style of TV," he said. "It's a new modern style of realism."

That includes a depth — a rich back story for each character — the original series seldom explored, he said.

'HAWAII FIVE-0' SUNSET ON THE BEACH

Where: Queen's Surf Beach, Waikiki

When: 5 p.m. tomorrow; stars arrive at 6 p.m.; premiere at 7:30 p.m.

Cost: Free

Entertainment: Willie K, Makana and Taimane Gardner

» Follow Star-Advertiser reporter Gary Chun on the red carpet via Twitter @garychun, and find more coverage tomorrow night at staradvertiser.com.

"I feel they are real characters," he said. "I don't feel like they are based in caricature or archetype. I feel they come from a real place."

O'Loughlin spends a lot of time on screen with Caan, who brings a wisecracking style of banter to the role. Caan said he loved the script when he read the pilot for "Five-0."

"You read something and you either get a good feel for it and see a lot of yourself in it or you don't, and in this, I did," he said between scenes.

One of the challenges Caan encountered had nothing to do with the "Five-0" legacy. Early in the filming schedule he had to have surgery to repair a torn ligament in one of his knees. Recovery typically takes several months, and while Caan, 34, insists he isn't in pain, he walks with a bit of a limp and his character uses a cane.

WHEN TO WATCH

The new "Hawaii Five-O" will be shown on CBS at 9 p.m. Monday on the 42nd anni-
versary to the day of the airing of the original "Hawaii Five-O."

More photos:
» Afterparty at Nobu Waikiki
» Scenes from the premiere
» Red Carpet: Part 1
» Red Carpet: Part 2
» Red Carpet: Part 3

Even so, Danno will blossom with surprises, said Caan, who also has been a recent regular on the HBO series "Entourage."

"I hope I will get a chance to bring a sense of humor to the show," Caan said. "I don't want to play any idea of what I think a cop would do. I want to go against that as much as possible."

As the day's shooting progresses, two of the show's huge, high-definition digital cameras are put into new positions. They're mounted on rolling carts that glide on aluminum rails.

O'Loughlin and Caan wait for their moment, shielded from the bright sun by assistants holding large golf umbrellas. They get their positions and wait while the director orchestrates nearly 100 extras whose job is to walk back and forth behind the pair whenever the cameras roll.

The action is stop-and-go, stop-and-go, but the routine builds camaraderie, said Daniel Dae Kim, 42, who became a global fan favorite — and a Hawaii resident — while starring on ABC's "Lost."

"It's been a good experience," he said under a tent between shots. "I think we are all finding our way and every day the cast and crew gels a little more. I think we have something we can be proud of."

Creating a believable Hawaii on TV has been important to everyone involved in the show, said Kim. As a resident, he feels a certain responsibility.

"This is representative of us," he said. "And I feel like in that regard, there is an obligation to do it authentically and with care."

THE HARDEST-WORKING actor on this North Shore shoot has to be Grace Park, who arrived at dawn and was still not finished as the sun began to set. A tan sprite in a yellow bikini, the 36-year-old actress has run up and down the beach, paddled a surfboard against currents and drawn emotions to play the distraught friend of the dead surfer.

Park, who starred on "Battlestar Galactica," represents the biggest departure from the original series. Her role as Kono was reinvented "from the slippers up," she said. In the original series, Kono was played by a man, a very large man.

"I feel there is more freedom," she said. "I am quite pleased by what we are doing. Kono is intelligent. She is courageous. She is adventurous. And if she is afraid, she doesn't show it."

It seems to be the unspoken theme of the new "Five-0" and CBS, which has spent millions of dollars tapping talent and promotion for the series.

"I think the general quality of the show is really high," Park said. "I feel the whole package coming together is going to sell. It's a classy, exciting, 'Hawaii Five-0.'"






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