Five-0 Redux: Honoring Dennis Chun
BY WENDIE BURBRIDGE / Special to the Star-Advertiser
Dennis Chun may play Sgt. Duke Lukela on “Hawaii Five-0,” but to fans he’s more than just an actor on their favorite television show.
Chun often takes time out of his busy schedule to attend fan gatherings and say hello to fans from near and far. For many of the Hawaiʻi fans, Chun has become a welcome addition to different activities planned by bloggers Lisa Woo, Keith Sato and Amy Bakari.
On Friday, June 14, fans got together at Big City Diner Ward to honor Chun at a surprise “H50 Fan Appreciation” party. Organized by Bakari and Woo, Hawaiʻi fans greeted Chun with a small token of their aloha — a thank you for a man who is always willing to share his aloha with “Five-0” viewers.
“For those of us (who) have gotten to know him better over the years, we are privileged and blessed to be able to call him our friend,” said Woo, who was integral in putting together a photo album for Chun filled with pictures of him with fans. “We’ve also gotten to meet his partner, Laura (Mellow), who is just as lovely and sweet. We have become ‘ohana.”
Bakari made Chun a special hōkū trophy with an engraved message: “In appreciation of Dennis Chun — Hoʻomaikaʻi ma kou ia ʻoe, Mahalo Nui Loa, H50hana fans 2013.” Bakari felt that honoring Chun “is our way of showing our appreciation to Dennis for showing up in almost all of our events and taking the to meet fans from all over the world.”
Philadelphia fan Linda Stein summed up how Chun makes a visiting fan feel special. Stein and her husband, Dennis, came to Hawaiʻi in May for their dream vacation and met up with Woo and Sato to have a few Blue Hawaii’s at the Hilton Hawaiian Village, a popular shooting spot for the show. Woo had asked Chun to come to dinner and surprise Stein, who was floored when she saw the actor standing behind her.
“I just couldn’t believe he was there,” said Stein. “I mean, who am I for him to make an effort to come and meet me? I’m just a random fan.”
But she is not alone in feeling that Chun doesn’t make anyone feel like “just a random fan.” Many fans I’ve talked to said the same thing.
“He made me feel like all the work they do to put on a great show is because of fans like me,” Stein said. “He made me feel welcomed and as if he was honored to meet me, as much as I was to meet him. I can honestly say there can’t be a better ambassador for Hawaiʻi and the aloha spirit than Dennis Chun.”
Florida fan Teresea Lea Brown also had kind words for Chun. Brown is a fan of the classic “Hawaii Five-O” as well as the rebooted version, and is often my go-to when I need facts and information about the classic show. She is a big fan of Chun and his dad, Kam Fong, who played Chin Ho Kelly in the original.
Brown wrote a short speech, which was read by fellow fan Benny Fontillas at Chun’s surprise.
“The talented Dennis Chun, portrayer of Sgt. Duke Lukela on the hit crime drama ‘Hawaii Five-0,’ a beloved son of Hawaii, is being honored with the first H50hana Appreciation Award. This honor is being bestowed upon Mr. Chun by the fans as a token of their appreciation for his embracing them as ‘ohana. His aloha for the fans, their devotion and admiration of the work of the cast, the crew, and the show itself has been the bond that has formed a worldwide fan base for this gifted performer. Dennis’ ambassadorship of the show’s history, his history, his love of acting, and Hawaii, has left all who have met him touched by his aloha. His gentlemanly, respectful aura leaves you feeling like you are truly part of an ʻohana. It is for this, and so much more, that Dennis shares with the fans, that they, the fans, are presenting him with the first H50hana Appreciation Award. Mahalo Nui Loa, dear sir.”
Hawaii News Now reporter Tannya Joaquin arrived to cover the special event and filmed a short segment for the June 14 evening news, and fellow “Hawaii Five-O” alum Kimo Kahoano stopped by to congratulate Chun and say hello to fans.
All in all, the special token bestowed on Chun was more meaningful to him than he could express that day.
“I was so humbled and honored. There really are no words to explain how touched I was,” he said. “It means more to me than an Oscar or an Emmy because it came from the fans. They are people who invite you into their homes and they are the ones who really deserve the thanks. I’m just grateful that I can touch a part of my dream.”
For the fans, Chun is a connection to the show that they love and actors they admire. What better way to appreciate a part of the show, by honoring one of the actors who allows them to get a glimpse behind the camera.
Redux Side Note:
Fans of “Hawaii Five-0” got several bits of good news in the last two weeks with the announcement of the Hawaiʻi “Sunset on the Beach” premiere, as well as the television premiere date also being set by CBS. “Sunset on the Beach” festivities are set for Thursday, Sept. 26, with the start of season four beginning the following Friday, Sept. 27.
This week “Na Ki’i” started off the official move to the new “Hawaii Five-0” night and time. Now fans will enjoy “Five-0″ Fridays at 8 p.m. in Hawaiʻi. The show takes a break next Friday, July 5, but will return July 12 with “Hoa Pili” directed by “Five-0″ stunt coordinator Jeff Cadiente.
Wendie Burbridge is a published author, playwright and teacher. Reach her via Facebook and follow her on Twitter.