“Hawaii Five-0” celebrates a new season every year with a traditional Hawaiian blessing to kick off their shooting schedule. This was the first year I was invited to attend the event, and while it was the sixth blessing, it still seemed to have special meaning to the cast and crew.
While we watched the sun come up over Koko Head Crater, cast members began to arrive. They greeted each other, exchanging hugs and asking about their hiatus break. Everyone looked relaxed, happy to see each other and seemed genuinely excited to get to work.
Dennis Chun was one of the first to greet me and introduced me to Una Wilding, Grace Park’s stand-in. Wilding was dressed much like Kono; she’s been Park’s stand-in for three seasons. She was as excited to get to work, like many of the other cast and crew members I spoke to that morning.
Chun and I had a chance to talk about the upcoming season, and he said the script for the first episode was “very exciting.”
“There’s a lot if action and it will have a lot of twists and turns,” he said. “Fans are going going to be surprised and excited by it. I think you’ll all really like it. It will be a blockbuster opening show.”
Stunt Coordinator Jeff Cadiente arrived and was all smiles, looking very tanned and rested. I wished him a good season and hoped he would still be smiling the same way by the end of the 25 episodes called for by CBS. I’m sure whatever Cadiente has planned for stunts and action this season will not disappoint.
I shared a big hug with Shawn Mokuahi Garnett, who has been very busy this summer playing music at Jimmy Buffett’s At The Beachcomber and Monkeypod Kitchen at Ko Olina.
Executive producer and showrunner Peter Lenkov arrived and immediately began hugging and greeting everyone. He was very excited and spoke about how happy he was to be starting their sixth season.
Alex O’Loughlin arrived with his dog, Dusty, who immediately started greeting everyone in the basecamp area with a sweet wag of her tail. The crew seemed very used to having her around and she didn’t go too far away from her master. O’Loughlin’s hiatus beard looked good on him and he seemed very relaxed and willing to share a hug and a smile with anyone who approached him.
Talking to reporters after the ceremony, O’Loughlin was questioned about the beard and laughingly joked that the show “pays him to shave.” While he wasn’t shooting on the day of the blessing, he talked about being “excited” about the new season, and about how after six years, “everyone knows what to do and what to expect.” I suppose this is why he looked so at ease and ready for another year.
I introduced myself to Ian Anthony Dale, who I’d never met in person, but interviewed over the phone and we talked for a few minutes about my fear that his character was going to be killed off after Adam proposed to Kono this last season.
“Well, I’m glad that didn’t happen! You never know with any show,” said Dale. As we finished our short conversation, Christopher Sean came by and I got the two to pose for a picture. Sean plays baddie Gabriel Waincroft and seemed to already be in costume, dressed in work pants and a uniform shirt with a Trans Hawaiian Parcel name patch. I asked him if his shirt was a spoiler for the season opener. He smiled knowingly, yet didn’t confirm nor deny.
“It’s going to be great,” he shared. “Just wait and see.”
I got to say a quick hello to Teilor Grubbs, who said she will start ninth grade this fall. Dennis Chun calls her “Little T” in contrast to Taylor Wily, who is “Big T.” (Wily, unfortunately, did not attend the blessing.)
Once Chi McBride and Daniel Dae Kim arrived, joining Jorge Garcia and the rest of the cast, everyone was asked to move to a staging area the crew had set up with a great view of the sunrise and mountains. O’Loughlin and executive producers Jeff Downer, Bryan Spicer and Peter Lenkov were asked by Kahu Kordell Kekoa to hold a maile lei during his short prayer and blessing of the sixth season.
Kekoa (who fans may recognize as the same Kahu who married Chin and Malia and who also conducted the ceremony to scatter Malia’s ashes) talked about the Hawaiian word for the number six, ʻeono. Kekoa focused on the word “ʻono” meaning delicious.
“We really want this season to be delicious,” said Kekoa. During the ceremony, he had the four men untwine the maile lei like an “umbilical cord, bringing life to a baby, and this is our baby. We’re bringing life to the sixth season.”
Kekoa did a traditional prayer to ke akua (the Hawaiian word for God) and used Hawaiian salt, water and a kī leaf to purify and bless the cast and crew. The blessing is always a smart way to start any season, as it chases away any negative mana (spirit) and sets the basis for a pono (goodness, correct or proper) season.
Dusty even seemed to get involved in the ceremony, as she stayed near O’Loughlin and at some moments followed Kekoa as he blessed the four men and the maile. After the maile was untwined, everyone either moved on to have breakfast or stuck around to visit and catch up with other members of the crew.
After the ceremony, Grace Park arrived and shared a sweet moment with on-screen cousin Daniel Dae Kim. She also looked really relaxed and refreshed and stopped to speak to reporters after talking with other crew members.
I got a chance to talk with Garcia and told him how happy I was he was on “Hawaii Five-0,” since I was a huge fan of his last show, “Alcatraz” (which was written and created in part by current “Five-0” writers Steven Lilien and Bryan Wynbrandt). We spent a few moments talking about the positive fan reaction to him being the show and how much he appreciated the Hawaiian blessing.
Soon everyone started to move toward trailers and onto shuttles, heading to film that day in a nearby Portlock home. I talked with Chun before I left about an email from Robin Freeman Bernstein, daughter of “Hawaii Five-0” creator Leonard Freeman, who wished “the entire cast, crew, and fans, a very successful season.”
I suppose “Hawaii Five-0” really understands tradition as it was set by Leonard Freeman. Congratulations to a cast and crew who have really embraced a tradition that seems to matter and helps them start off a new season on a positive note.
REDUX SIDE NOTE
CBS had no news of a possible sixth “Sunset on the Beach,” but the network continues with Friday repeats. Friday’s episode is the action-packed “Ua ʻaihue” (“Stolen”), where Kono and Chin go undercover in some James Bond-style threads to catch an art thief.
Wendie Burbridge is a published author, playwright and teacher. Reach her via Facebook and follow her on Twitter.