Being on the “Hawaii Five-0” Sunset on the Beach red carpet is nothing like what fans might see by watching a live feed or video posted online. Being there amid the cheering mass of fans and watching the episode two weeks before the rest of the world is unlike anything else.
Just to sit there on the sand as the sun sets and the “Five-0” theme song fills Waikīkī Beach is incredibly special. Every time I have been able to attend, I have taken a deep breath and told myself, “You are so lucky.” Every fan who has traveled from afar to join those on the beach has probably done the same.
I spoke to several lucky fans who watched the fifth season premiere at Sunset on the Beach and asked them about their red carpet experience, as well as what they thought of thefifth season opener.
Actor Dennis Chun also spoke to me about his experience at what he called “a very special” season premiere.
“It was definitely an exceptional evening to cap off a whole week of special celebrations,” he said. “We started off with the classic ‘Hawaii Five-O’ gang getting together with the new gang, to the 100th episode cake-cutting ceremony and then the premiere on the beach with all the fans and friends of the show.
“We were all ʻohana that night. It was truly special.”
Chun talked about a dinner he attended with executive producer Peter Lenkov and producer Jeff Downer with actors from the classic “Hawaii Five-O” who have also guest starred or have recurring roles in the current version.
Actors Al Harrington, Kimo Kahoano and his wife Leilani, Jimmy Borges and his wife Vicky, Chun and his friend Laura Mellow, as well as veteran broadcaster Emme Tomimbang and her husband, retired judge James S. Burns, had a lovely dinner with Robin Freeman Bernstein, Susan Freeman Mann and Lisa Freeman, the daughters of “Hawaii Five-O” creator Leonard Freeman.
“There was a lot of love and aloha being shared between the old and the new,” said Chun. “The Freeman sisters are all extremely supportive and proud of the new gang and what Peter (Lenkov) is doing.”
“What other show has twice hit the 100 mark? It’s a tribute to Leonard Freeman and Peter Lenkov, and the cast and crew of both shows, the wonderful fans of both and to the ʻāina and people of Hawaii. It’s so very special,” he said.
Chun attended Sunset on the Beach with his partner Laura Mellow, his daughter Ashley Weiss and her friend Steve Schock, and friend Shannon Hagel. Hagel’s husband, Randy, watched from the beach, and I spoke to both of them about their evening.
“It was my first time ‘inside’ — I had watched the season three premiere from the beach, but this time I was lucky enough to join Dennis and Laura on the red carpet,” Shannon Hagel said. “It was a different kind of energy. More celebratory, yet still very exciting.
“The episode was terrific. The writing is just getting better and better, and the storylines are current and really reflect what’s going on in the world today.”
Randy Hagel had the same experience out and about with the crowd.
“It was a good show, I enjoyed it. I watched the show … with some people who had been extras in the episode, so it was great to hear about their experience. I’m excited for (the) new season,” he said.
Ashley Weiss and her friend Steve Schock had a great time on the red carpet. Both traveled to Honolulu from Seattle to attend. It was Schock’s first time attending Sunset on the Beach.
“It was an amazing night,” said Weiss, who was attending her second Sunset on the Beach. “I feel very lucky and fortunate to have been invited to such an incredible event.”
Schock shared about meeting all of the stars and how interesting it was to talk with them.
“I thought it was amazing when Alex (O’Loughlin) talked about how much Hawaii means to them and about how great the people on the island are to the show,” he said.
Weiss and Schock met several of the actors and got a chance to talk with Scott Caan and Jorge Garcia; they also sat next to Taylor Wily during the premiere.
“Grace Park was super nice and took two pictures with us,” Schock said.
There were several fans I spoke to who watched the episode from the beach and had an equally great time meeting the actors, taking pictures and getting autographs for their collections. Local blogger Lisa Woo had a great time on the beach during the day, even gaining a 100th episode coin from executive producer Peter Lenkov. Lenkov and Chun joined Five-0 production crew members on the beach before the red carpet to visit with fans who camped out to claim their spots the day before.
“The show was really great,” said Woo. “Lenkov said it wasn’t quite finished, that they still wanted to tweak it before the television premiere, so we got a really special episode just for us on the beach.”
Woo has attended every Sunset on the Beach event since season two and has a picture with actor Mark Dacascos from each year he attended. Dacascos remembered her in the crowd and they continued their tradition for season five.
Jannelle Robles flew in for her fourth Sunset on the Beach event from Dallas, Tex. She and SOTB regulars Monica Bacon and Julie Mercer from Hawaii, Donna Walston from Phoenix, and Terri Ferrara from Texas, all stood by the gates near where the stars pulled up to enter the red carpet area.
“It was so fun to see all the stars interact with all the fans,” said Robles. “The sweetest moment was when Alex lifted a little boy up over the fence and signed his shirt. It was great to see his daddy side show up.
“I loved the 100 hula girls to mark the 100th episode. It seemed as if the stars spent a longer time with the fans signing and taking pictures. It was nice.”
Tim Miller, who flew in from Plano, Tex., for his second Sunset on the Beach, spent most of the day on the “very hot” beach and saw many of his favorite stars.
“Scott (Caan) and Alex came down to our end and Alex gave me my favorite memory from this Sunset on the Beach.” he said. “While most of us were yelling for our favorite actors to come on over, I heard an excited Alex shout out to a fan he saw in the crowd. … Alex’s eyes just lit up and he was very excited to shake hands with the fan. To see that happen was really pure and wonderful.”
Overall, fans saw more than just the season premiere of their favorite show. Many had moments that became special memories that will stay with them during another great season of “Hawaii Five-0.”
REDUX SIDE NOTE
This is it, folks— one week to the fifth season premiere of “Hawaii Five-0.” I know fans around the world have been waiting for September to roll around, and now we have one short week to wait and see what some fans saw last week at Sunset on the Beach.
“ʻAʻohe kahi e peʻe ai” (“Nowhere to hide”) airs Friday Sept. 26 and from the reaction of those who saw it in Wakīkī last week, it’s not to be missed.
Wendie Burbridge is a published author, playwright and teacher. Reach her via Facebook and follow her on Twitter.