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This article was published 14/3/2012 (3425 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
LOS ANGELES -- HBO's Luck didn't have much of it.
The low-rated drama, which is set at a racetrack and stars Dustin Hoffman and Nick Nolte, was abruptly cancelled Wednesday after the injury and subsequent euthanasia of a horse used in the production led to widespread criticism. The show already was facing intense criticism from animal-rights activists, who were investigating two previous horse deaths connected to the series last year.
The cancellation comes just days after People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals sent HBO a letter charging that Luck's producers ignored advice from animal-safety experts and created conditions that posed "unacceptable" risks to equine performers.
"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," HBO wrote in a statement late Wednesday afternoon.
Milch -- creator of HBO's Deadwood -- and film director Mann are known for hard-charging and somewhat obsessive work habits as well as an uncompromising creative style.
Initially, HBO agreed to halt the filming of scenes involving horses pending an investigation into the latest animal death and sought to refute the accusations of poor work conditions: "Recent assertions of lax attitudes or negligence could not be further from the truth." The network said it partnered with the American Humane Association, as well as with racing experts, "to implement safety protocols that go above and beyond typical film and TV industry standards and practices."
In making the cancellation decision, however, the network bowed to the uncertainty inherent in working with live animals -- especially when a safety record is already under scrutiny. "While we maintained the highest safety standards possible," HBO said in a statement, "accidents unfortunately happen and it is impossible to guarantee they won't in the future."
Animals are becoming more common in TV and movie productions, a trend that many activists deplore.
Although the first season of Luck had only nine episodes, the second season was scheduled to shoot 10. The show's season -- now series -- finale will air March 25.
The show has performed poorly, even by the standards of premium cable. Despite its lofty creative pedigree and all-star cast, the premiere attracted just 1.1 million viewers. Subsequent episodes have struggled to hit the 500,000 mark.
-- Los Angeles Times