New contributor Cheryl Hollar is here to talk about HAWAII FIVE-0!
HAWAII FIVE-0 is not just a television series. It’s an experience. And that experience has always been about “ohana” (family). So far this season, the series’ third, the love of “ohana” has not been too far behind.
It began at the Sunset on the Beach premiere, when star Alex O’Loughlin (Steve McGarrett) took the HAWAII FIVE-0 experience to the next level by sharing with the packed Waikiki Beach crowd that the show is not only about “ohana,” but is also about the Aloha Spirit, spoken from the heart.
Showrunner and Executive Producer Peter Lenkov confirmed this to me when I spoke with him, saying, “I love Hawaii. I love its people, its culture, its tolerance, and it’s Aloha Spirit. If our show speaks to anything about Hawaii and its people, I would hope it speaks to their great love of family, or ‘ohana,’ for one thing. It doesn’t matter if you’re a ‘haole’ from Jersey or a local. There’s a place and a people you belong to that always has your back.”
Third Time’s the Charm
Prior to the proclamation of September 23, 2012 as HAWAII FIVE-0 Day, celebrities Nina Tassler (President of CBS Entertainment), Bob Orci and Peter Lenkov (Executive Producers), Masi Oka (Dr. Max Bergman), Michelle Borth (Catherine Rollins), Daniel Dae Kim (Chin Ho), and O’Loughlin greeted press on the red carpet.
Knowing how much the original series meant to Lenkov and his father, I took the red-carpet opportunity to ask him about his greatest personal and professional accomplishments to date going into the new season. With no hesitation, he told me, “The greatest satisfaction is just getting the show to season three.” He continued,” I think that when you start these things, you don’t take them for granted. The fact that we’re still here is a testament to the hard work of everybody involved. To me, this is a career high, for sure.”
Nothing Stays the Same
The red-carpet affair was also a time to roll out the announcement of some major character changes. Regular cast newcomer Borth revealed major adjustments her character will undergo in a move to Hawaii this season. She told me, “One adjustment is, of course, that she’s not in uniform anymore. And, you’ll see that she likes to lay out by the pool and relax a little bit. She doesn’t really get much chance to do that, though. There’s also going to be a lot of fight sequences and action sequences that you haven’t seen her do in the past. That’s going to be exciting. I’ve never had to be this physically challenged or train as hard at anything before. I had to learn everything from how to work a gun to how to deliver a proper punch.”
A few days following the premiere, I had the opportunity to catch up with Lenkov again, and he shared more exciting plans for Season Three. He told me, “I think we really hit the ground running in the premiere with where we’d like to take the characters this season. For Steve, in the last two years, he spent so much time delving into the mysteries of his past. Now that he’s solved one, learning his mother is still alive, we’ll get the opportunity to explore him dealing with his personal life in the here-and-now.”
He continued, “Danny’s in a custody battle for his daughter, and we’ll get to see him fight for his rights as a father. Of course, we’ll also get to explore his personal life. He did leave last season with a budding romance. We’re also hoping Danny’s brother returns to wrap up his storyline.”
“Needless to say,” said Lenkov, “Chin Ho, dealing with the loss of the love of his life and how one moves on from that trauma, will carry throughout the season. With Kono, I think this is probably the first time she’s really let herself love someone, but it may be with a man she can’t trust. We’ll get to play back and forth with her feelings for Adam and her gut instinct as a cop. There’s just a lot to work with and explore this season. It’s gonna be a great ride.”
He added, “I think our world and our characters are where they’re supposed to be. I wouldn’t change anything.”
Alex Is Steve
I remembered that, at the premiere, Lenkov introduced O’Loughlin as “Steve McGarrett.” I mentioned how he told everyone at Sunset on the Beach that he didn’t refer to Alex as “Alex” anymore, but as “Steve.” I then asked how O’Loughlin had “become” the character he envisioned in the pilot. He told me, “It’s so true. I actually occasionally slip and type “Alex” instead of “Steve” when I’m writing. They’re one and the same to me now. I just couldn’t ask for anything more than what Alex brings to the table for “Steve”. When you have an actor who can play the comedy, play the action, play the heart, it just gives the freedom to fully explore a complicated character like McGarrett. It allows me to push further than I ever thought I could with that character, and I can’t imagine being able to do that with anyone but Alex.”
Family Runs Deep
And speaking of “playing the heart,” I took the opportunity on the red carpet to shout out a big “hello” to O’Loughlin from mutual friend, HAWAII FIVE-0 Season One Producer Carol Barbee. (O’Loughlin starred in her Three Rivers series as Transplant Surgeon Dr. Andy Yablonski and was so drawn to the hope and giving of organ donation that he became an Ambassador for the cause). O’Loughlin’s response was one of total glee. He beamed and said, “I love her. Tell her I love her. She’s a good, good friend.”
My Job Would be Easier if…
And what about that “ohana” spirit I spoke about at the top of this article? The topic resurfaced when I asked Lenkov about the challenges of his job as showrunner. He revealed, “The biggest thing I contend with is not being able to walk down a hallway and have a conversation with someone in physical production, because their hallway is thousands of miles away in Hawaii. I’m out in Hawaii one week a month and if I’m not, we always have a writer/producer there working with the cast and crew, but some days I just miss the ease of being able to pop down to set and touch base with everybody.”
He added, “But I have to say that what makes my job easy is being surrounded by incredibly talented people that make it okay that I’m not on set every day. From the crew, to the cast, to my writing staff, they’re just a great group that I can totally rely on. I just couldn’t ask for better people in our Five-0 ohana.”
Trust is the Theme
With that, I was taken back to Lenkov’s comments from stage at Sunset on the Beach as he introduced the premiere to the world, “Every year, we gather in the writers’ room and come up with a theme for the season. For us, this year the theme is trust. You’ll see that evident in the first episode and see it play out in subsequent episodes. I think we’re doing a good job in infusing that theme. To the people of Hawaii and around the world, I want to say thank you for trusting us. We strive to make you guys proud of the show.”
HAWAII FIVE-0 airs on Monday nights on CBS and occasionally repeats on weekends.
Cheryl has been a freelance TV/film writer for more than 10 years. Simultaneously, she has worked in PR for Bon Jovi Productions in NYC, PolyGram Records (also in NYC), and Rogers & Cowan Public Relations. Cheryl has published articles at suite101.com, “Sci-Fi Entertainment” magazine, and “Soap Opera Weekly.” She was also a credited researcher for English author Denis Meikle’s JOHNNY DEPP: A KIND OF ILLUSION. Cheryl enjoys writing for the entertainment industry and meeting new people. She is also an animal lover.