It might not have been the Season 8 premiere as originally expected, but “Hawaii Five-0” fans at the show’s annual Sunset on the Beach screening in Waikiki scored an exclusive of their own at Queen’s Surf on Friday night.
Ever since the “Hawaii Five-O” reboot debuted on CBS in 2010, fans from Hawaii and around the world have descended on Waikiki every September to catch the season’s first episode before it aired anywhere else. That changed this year when, according to executive producer Peter Lenkov, scheduling challenges forced the delay of SOTB until the new season was well underway.
Instead, the event featured a “world premiere” screening of the 175th episode of “Hawaii Five-0,” scheduled to air nationally Nov. 17. It was a milestone Lenkov commemorated by creating special challenge coins he handed out to fans on the beach earlier on Friday afternoon during a visit with new cast addition Beulah Koale and local actors Dennis Chun and Teilor Grubbs.
“That’s still my favorite part,” said Lenkov, referring to mingling with the early arrivals to Sunset on the Beach, some of whom also scored retro View-Master toys and dog bowls featuring Eddie, the “Five-0” canine mascot introduced in Season 8.
SERIES NEWCOMER Koale, who is Samoan and was born and raised in New Zealand, and Meaghan Rath, who was born in Canada and whose mother immigrated from India, join “Five-0” as replacements for stars Daniel Dae Kim and Grace Park, who both declined to renew their contracts for the show this season.
“I’ve never been a part of anything like this,” Koale said of the SOTB experience while on the red carpet a few hours after visiting the beach with Lenkov. “To represent Hawaii, our Polynesian people and the show as well as the history it has, it’s a complete honor.”
Added Rath: “This is next level. I’ve worked on some great shows that are cult hits, but I’ve never experienced something so mainstream that’s a cultural phenomenon the way this show is.”
An estimated 5,000 to 6,000 fans were on hand Friday to see Koale and Rath make their first appearances at Sunset on the Beach. Also walking the red carpet along with stars Alex O’Loughlin, Scott Caan and Chi McBride were series regulars Jorge Garcia, Ian Anthony Dale, Kimee Balmilero and Chun, and local actors with recurring roles Taylor Wily, Shawn Mokuahi Garnett and Grubbs. U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell and Honolulu City Councilman Trevor Ozawa joined more than 100 invited active-duty and retired service members for the screening. National recording artist Phillip Phillips performed a miniconcert.
“It’s a privilege to be part of this team and to see Hawaii’s acting community grow,” said Chun. “I think it says a lot about how hard Hawaii’s actors are working to up their game. Our people are just as talented, as committed and as artistic as anyone else. I think it’s very special for a show about Hawaii to have people from Hawaii be a part of it.”
MAKIKI resident Steven Ogata, 61, said he has attended every “Hawaii Five-0” screening in Waikiki.
“You never know if this might be the last (one),” he said. “That’s why you gotta go every time, otherwise you’ll regret not coming. They could just cut them mid-season. We gotta support them.”
Ogata showed up at Queen’s Beach at noon Friday, when “everything was still empty” and he could secure a prime location near the start of the red carpet. As the media began showing up around 4 p.m., he sat comfortably in a folding chair, selfie stick at the ready, his own Five-0 badge hanging from his waist.
While Ogata said he’ll miss seeing Park walk the red carpet this year, he and a lot of others will be excited to see Steve McGarrett make an appearance for fans.
“For the women, it’s got to be Alex O’Loughlin,” he said.