‘Magnum P.I.’ stars revved up about fourth season in Hawaii

COURTESY KAREN NEAL / CBS The fourth season of “Magnum P.I.” kicked off Tuesday in Manoa with a traditional Hawaiian blessing, which was held in line with the series’ overall filming safety COVID-19 protocols. Co-Executive Producer Kenneth Burke, from left, Perdita Weeks, Co-Executive Producer Gene Hong, Tim Kang, Director Bryan Spicer, Executive Producer Eric Guggenheim, Jay Hernandez, Stephen Hill, Zachary Knighton, Amy Hill and Kahu Kordell Kekoa participated in the ceremony.
Kahu Kordell Kekoa performed the blessing ceremony with the cast and crew in attendance.

With a roar from a red Ferrari and gentle Manoa rain, “Magnum P.I.,” the CBS reboot of the popular 1980s detective show, launched its fourth season today with heartfelt hugs and greetings among cast and crew and good wishes for fans of the show.

Kahu Kordell Kekoa, who blessed each of the three previous seasons of the hit series, began the proceedings by reminding everybody they were there to entertain and amuse their fans and to bring them a moment of respite at a time when COVID-19 is still having a major impact on life.

“You guys, when you come to work, just realize that the people that are going to be watching these shows, they may have gone through something during the day, and they’re ready to just be encouraged, and laugh, or involve themselves in the storyline, or just get themselves involved with just being part of Hawaii,” Kekoa said. “So today, whenever you come to work today, don’t bring junk with you. We had enough of that last season.”

Amy Hill, who portrays cultural adviser Teuila “Kumu” Tuileta in the show, said the blessings deepen the bond the cast feels for Hawaii and its people.

“It’s not like any other place I’ve ever worked, because you feel so connected to everyone and where we are,” she said.

Hill has become a resident of Hawaii, joking that with her state identification, she now gets kamaaina discounts. She spent much of the pandemic here sewing masks for charity and for friends and family; she was only off-island for about a month.

“I’m looking forward to making a new family,” she said. “We have a lot of new crew that we didn’t have before, because many of them went to ‘NCIS: (Hawai‘i),’ so it’s like we’re creating a new family.”

Stephen Hill, who portrays Magnum’s friend, fellow crime fighter and helicopter pilot Theodore “TC” Calvin, came to the ceremony wearing a USA shirt to celebrate the start of the Olympics. He, too, stayed in Hawaii for much of the pandemic.

“I felt a little guilty to be here while my family was home on the West Coast, and on the East Coast,” he said. “I have family down South, and they were in states that had it hit pretty rough.”

Off-camera, Hill has been pursuing martial arts, taking lessons in Asian sword-fighting and qigong, a wellness practice similar to tai chi. “I could see TC landing his helicopter somewhere beautiful and doing qigong,” he said.

He said he was looking forward to exploring his character, a former POW who befriended Magnum while they were serving in Afghanistan. “That’s the beauty of a television show,” he said. “The characters just keep growing, like real life almost. By the time we’re done, I don’t know who I am anymore, Stephen Hill or Theodore Calvin.”

Jay Hernandez, who plays the titular character of the show, got to rev up the red Ferrari (“I love that car,” he said of one of the iconic props of the show) to start the day’s shoot.

“I know the crew and the cast, and I know Hawaii in a different way than when I shot the pilot,” he said. “It feels like coming home.”

Hernandez spent a lot of the pandemic in his condominium “walking in circles,” but also managed to visit the East Coast and Los Angeles. He was especially happy to get back to Hawaii early and go surfing, an interest from the moment he arrived here that was delayed by work.

“Literally the first thing I did, I had no furniture in my condo, but I bought a surfboard,” he said, “but for two years, two seasons, I didn’t get to surf at all. I was so busy, I had no time off. The third season I got in the ocean a bunch of times and I was kind of angry at myself for not doing it sooner, not committing to it.”

He’s expecting the new season to have plenty of “great action.”

“I think the show, especially in this time right now, is a bit of escapism,” he said. “People like feeling they can get away from whatever their lives are and spend some time in Hawaii, and we’re definitely going to deliver that.”

The fourth season will premiere Oct. 1 on CBS.