The fictional police detectives on “Hawaii Five-O” are supposed to be solving crimes, but one outraged World War II veterans group says the TV show’s production crew recently disrespected them in a way just short of criminal.
The show’s executive producer apologized to the group today, but disputed part of their account.
It all began Friday at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, nestled in an ancient volcanic crater commonly known as “Punchbowl.”
The Denver-based Greatest Generations Foundation brought 24 WWII veterans to the cemetery to pay their respects and take part in a memorial ceremony for the 70th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. About 50 yards away, a “Hawaii Five-O” production crew was busy filming scenes for the hit-CBS show.
Steffan Tubbs, a host on Denver radio station 850 KOA and Greatest Generations Foundation board member, emceed the ceremony. He says he became upset when he saw crewmembers ignoring the ceremony’s more solemn moments.
“The national anthem was played, colors were presented, and I noticed a couple of people didn’t stop and show their respects,” Tubbs told ABC.
After the ceremony, Tubbs said, a few veterans — the average age of the group was 91 — began walking among the gravestones to pay their respects. At one point some elderly veterans were placing roses at anonymous graves when Tubbs said a “Hawaii Five-O” crewmember “shushed” the group and told them to move along.
“Here are these guys coming back for their final visit to Pearl Harbor and Hawaii,” Tubbs said. “It was the ultimate disrespect.”
Pictures provided by the Greatest Generations Foundation show equipment set up on or very near actual graves.
“The whole time this production crew is on the graves. Cameras, lights, tracks for the cameras. You name it,” Tubbs said.
Tubbs said another picture shows the hand of one crewmember trying to block a view of cast member Terry O’Quinn, of “Lost” fame.
In a statement released tonight, “Hawaii Five-O” executive producer Peter Lenkov apologized to members of the group who were “unintentionally offended.”
“Any rudeness by our staff can only be attributed to haste to finish our work, not a lack of respect for men and women who have served and sacrificed for their country. And for that, too, we sincerely apologize to any that were offended,” the statement said.
Lenkov insists the crew did indeed stop production for the playing of the national anthem and “Taps.”
“We recognize the privilege of filming in Hawaii and we are acutely aware of the deserved respect for its culture, history and the reverence that should be afforded to all of our veterans, particularly those who served so nobly in Hawaii and at Pearl Harbor,” Lenkov said.
In a Facebook post, the Greatest Generations Foundation CEO Timothy Davis said Lenkov’s statement was “not heartfelt” and called on CBS and “Hawaii-Five-O” to issue a formal written apology to each of the veterans in the group.
Tubbs said the veterans got one tiny bit of satisfaction as they boarded buses and rolled out of Punchbowl.
“This was immature of me, but I said, ‘Gentlemen, if you so choose, how about we give them one big one-fingered military salute?’” he said.
The last thing the production crew saw, Tubbs said, was a bunch of 90-year-old men flipping off the “Hawaii Five-O” crew.
“It was one of the priceless moments of my life,” Tubbs said.