2ND UPDATE: In a statement, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals applauded HBO’s decision to end Luck. “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,” PETA said. The organization noted that it had urged the show’s producers “to use stock racing footage instead of endangering horses for entertainment purposes” and said that it “has called on law enforcement to investigate the deaths of the horses used on the set and to bring charges as appropriate.”
UPDATED: Luck will be no more on HBO. The pay cable network, along with Luck executive producers David Milch and Michael Mann, just announced that they’re ending the series following yesterday’s horse death, the third on the set of the horse racing drama starring Dustin Hoffman. Luck had been in the middle of production on the second episode of Season 2. The recently completed first episode won’t air. Meanwhile, the remaining two episodes of Luck‘s first season will air as scheduled, with the season finale serving also as a series finale. In the immediate aftermath of yesterday’s horse death, HBO initially said that production on Luck will continue with scenes that don’t involve horses. Now the stoppage will encompass the entire production. As of the time of HBO’s announcement, filming on the series was still underway, with the cast and crew unaware of the decision, but was expected to shut down immediately.
After drawing a modest 1.1 million viewers for each of the pilot episode’s two premiere airings, in December and then again in January, Luck has slipped in the ratings, logging 686,000 viewers for its most recent first-run episode. However, ratings were never the deciding factor in determining the series’ fate — the mounting horse deaths simply became too much of a liability and a PR nightmare for the network. Luck is a behind-the-track look at the world of horse racing and gambling’s denizens – owners, trainers, jockeys and gamblers. Dustin Hoffman and Nick Nolte led the cast, which also included Dennis Farina, John Ortiz, Richard Kind, Kevin Dunn, Ian Hart, Ritchie Coster, Jason Gedrick, Kerry Condon, Gary Stevens, Tom Payne, and Jill Hennessy. Milch and Mann executive produced with Carolyn Strauss. Here is the statement announcing the end of the series:
It is with heartbreak that executive producers David Milch and Michael Mann together with HBO have decided to cease all future production on the series Luck.
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.
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.
Quote from Michael Mann and David Milch: “The two of us loved this series, loved the cast, crew and writers. This has been a tremendous collaboration and one that we plan to continue in the future.”