Wednesday, March 14, 2012

HBO's "Luck" Canceled Due to Third Horse Death

Michael Mann's new series "Luck" on HBO has been cancelled due to a third horse death during filming.

The LA Times reports:

The low-rated drama, which is set at a racetrack and stars Dustin Hoffman and Nick Nolte, was abruptly canceled Wednesday after the injury and subsequent euthanasia of a horse used in the production led to widespread criticism. The show was already 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.

The third horse died from head injuries when, in the barn area, it suddenly reared, flipped over on its back, and hit its head. It was later euthanized. This does happen once in a while, unfortunately; a horse will spook and rear over something as innocuous as a kleenex on the ground, or a car horn, or someone who inadvertently scares the horse by suddenly appearing in his line of sight. A racehorse is strung tighter than a violin.

And while this third death sounds like something that could have happened anywhere and was not the fault of anyone at the production company, still, it was what set an already controversial show off the cliff.

The Times article continues:

However, PETA was already moving forward with a complaint about the deaths of two horses, Outlaw Yodeler and Marc’s Shadow, during filming of the drama’s first season last year.

According to a necropsy report, those animals had been in severe pain and were under heavy medication at the time of their deaths.

In a letter dated March 6 to Michael Lombardo, the HBO president of programming, and Bruce Richmond, a vice president of production, Kathy Guillermo, PETA’s vice president of laboratory investigations, warned: “We are hearing from multiple credible sources that horses are once again at risk on the set of ‘Luck.’

“We understand that there are currently no licensed humane officers on the set. This is inexplicable, unacceptable, and dangerous. While the American Humane Assn. may have a representative present for filming, this is inadequate. We ask you to return at least one, and preferably more, California licensed humane officers to the set and to ensure that their recommendations about the choice of the horses used and the filming methods are followed to the letter.

“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.”

While I think PETA can go overboard some times, I do think they do good work when they're not involved in publicity stunts. This is one of those times when they put the animals' welfare first.

What is so ironic is that the show is about horse racing, a sport in which hundreds of horses are euthanized every year from injuries. Yet no one is cancelling racing events.

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Barry Traylor said...

I am afraid that I can't recall the horse's name that broke his leg in one of the Triple Crown races and later had to be put down, but when I learned how easy it is for this to happen to race horses I lost all interest in wantching them run.

Cap'n Bob said...

PETA is full of it. They kill 95% of the animals they "rescue."

Todd Mason said...

PETA aren't heroes, but if this actually draws some attention to how many horses are injured in the "sport of kings" it's all to the good.

Laurie Powers said...

One could say the same thing about the Humane Society Bob, who's shelters are not no-kill. However, they're also the ones that exposed the terrible conditions in the slaughterhouses in California and the chicken farms. While I wish they'd push for no kill, I support their other efforts.

I read an article a few months ago that actually was good news - various people are predicting that all of the animals shelters in the US could be completely converted to being no-kill shelters by about 2015. That would be amazing.

Laurie Powers said...

Barry, that was Barbaro that broke his leg in the Preakness. They tried to keep him alive for almost a year. Poor baby - he was in a lot of pain at the end.