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HBO Luck runs out of luck

Billy Gardner

HBO Luck series star/producer Dustin Hoffman

3 horses died in production

The HBO Luck series, which is set at a racetrack and stars Dustin Hoffman and Nick Nolte was cancelled Wednesday after the injury and euthanasia of a horse. This is the third horse that has perished since the shows filming, with the first two occurring last season. Pressure from critics and animal rights groups has caused the show to crumble.

Executive producers David Munn and Matt Milch of the HBO Luck series have released a statement about the cancellation, “Safety is always of paramount concern. We maintained the highest safety standards throughout production, higher in fact than any protocols existing in horseracing anywhere with many fewer incidents than occur in racing or than befall horses normally in barns at night or pastures. While we maintained the highest safety standards possible, accidents unfortunately happen, and it is impossible to guarantee they won’t in the future. Accordingly, we have reached this difficult decision.” The statement added, “We are immensely proud of this series, the writing, the acting, the filmmaking, the celebration of the culture of horses and everyone involved in its creation.”

Despite a substantial amount of hype and critical praise, the show has not been receiving the response it hoped for, with only about 625,000 viewers per episode.  The show cancelled its production amid filming for its second season.

PETA and its president, Kathy Guillermo, filed complaints prior to the death of the third horse of the HBO Luck series, stating, “During the filming of the first season, there were reportedly four humane officers monitoring the use of horses. We are told that the production company, to its shame, did not always follow their advice, and this accounts, at least in part, for the two deaths during filming. These officers had rejected as unfit a number of horses who, we are now told, have been returned to the Luck set for the filming of the second season.”

PETA issued a response praising the HBO Luck series on their decision, “Knowing that old, unfit and drugged horses were forced to race for this series, PETA is glad that HBO has finally decided to cancel the show. We thank the whistleblowers who refused to let these horses’ deaths go unnoticed. Should Milch, Mann and HBO decide to start the series up again, PETA will be calling on them, as we have done from the start, to use stock racing footage instead of endangering horses for entertainment purposes. PETA has called on law enforcement to investigate the deaths of the horses used on the set and to bring charges as appropriate,”

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