HBO had already green-lighted a second season of “Luck,” and 11
2 episodes had been shot in mid-March, when the media got wind of a third horse that had to be euthanized — this time after the horse reared, fell backward and hit its head on the ground while being led back to its stall. The next day, HBO surprised the media, the show’s crew and PETA by announcing that it was canceling the show, in which Dustin Hoffman starred as a crime kingpin trying to take control of a racetrack. PETA had already filed its first complaint with the DA’s office, asking for an investigation into that death and the deaths of two other “Luck” horses. Those previous two horses were euthanized — one last year, one in 2010 — after breaking their legs while running “races” for the show or immediately after.
A chunk of the $35 million “impairment” that Time Warner listed in its earnings report as being “related to the cancellation of the HBO original series ‘Luck’ ” was spent paying off commitments to its creators and stars, as well as other production commitments on the series.
“They’ve lost a fortune, but the horses who died have paid a much bigger price,” said Kathy Guillermo, vice president at PETA.
One week before Time Warner’s latest earnings report was released, PETA submitted a new complaint with the Los Angeles County DA’s office and with the California Veterinary Medical Board. PETA said it has internal AHA documents that purport to show humane association staffers having concerns about possible drugging, name-swapping and underfeeding of horses. PETA contended the documents also show that AHA staffers had reported possible attempts to use horses too young to race, a failure to properly rest horses and a failure to report all injuries.
PETA also asked the DA’s office to look into whether a fourth horse used in the production of “Luck” died during the show’s hiatus because of injuries suffered as a result of how the horse was stabled.
Guillermo told The TV Column that the organization obtained the documents from a “whistleblower who was on the set during the filming of the show in the first season, who had access to AHA documents.”
HBO on Wednesday reiterated that the safety of the horses had been of paramount concern during production on the series and that “while we maintained the highest safety standards possible, accidents unfortunately happened and it was impossible to guarantee they wouldn’t in the future” and that, accordingly, they reached the difficult decision to cancel production.