The Story Behind HBO’s Cancellation of Luck

A lot had been said and written aLuckbout the abrupt cancellation of HBO’s Luck this past Wednesday.

The cable network, along with executive producers David Milch and Michael Mann, announced the immediate cease of production of the Dustin Hoffman-starring drama, following news that three horses had died during production.

Last year during the filming of the first season of Luck, two horses died but a third death last Tuesday, while shooting episode two of season two, forced HBO to quickly suspend all use of horses indefinitely.

But within the next 24 hours, after an investigation into further safety precautions had taken place, the network canceled the show, saying that they couldn’t prevent further fatalities.

California Horse Racing Board Equine Medical Director Dr. Rick Arthur, who worked with the production when it filmed at the Santa Anita race track, told TVGuide.com that ‘horse fatalities are not uncommon at the race track because accidents do happen.’

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), however, has long been opposed to the series and after its cancelation the organization sent out a release, claiming Luck used ‘old, unfit and drugged horses.’

HBO immediately sent the following response to PETA’s accusations: ‘The drugs that have been referenced by PETA were administered post-injury to calm the horse and to allow the attending veterinarian to properly examine the injury.’

HBO, which worked closely with the American Humane Association and the CHRB, also insisted that no drugs were administered prior to filming of racing sequences for any purposes, but PETA’s Vice President of Laboratory Investigation Kathy Guillermo told TVGuide.com that the necropsy report cited additional drugs in the horses’ systems that shouldn’t have been there, and has called upon law enforcement to investigate the deaths.

After Luck premiered to 3.3 million viewers in January (including the early December preview and replays) HBO announced its renewal for a second season two days later. But after a month on the air, the show suffered a 50 percent loss of its audience.

Some industry watchers have said that Luck‘s lukewarm ratings may have also been a factor to its quick demise.


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