A day before a third horse died on the set of "Luck," PETA -- People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals -- had sought a criminal investigation into the production's practices, per the group. It was unclear whether that had any impact on HBO's surprise decision to cancel the series, but PETA's complaints could not have gone unheard either. (HBO referred all comments to its own statement last night.)
Here's PETA's statement:
Horses and people who care about them can rest a little easier tonight. HBO has announced that it is canceling "Luck" and ceasing all production on the series! Even before filming on "Luck" started, PETA contacted David Milch, Michael Mann, and others associated with the production to suggest ways to protect horses, including the use of stock racing footage instead of using live animals. After the first two horses died -- and the producers began stonewalling -- PETA revealed the deaths publicly and obtained information from whistle-blowers as well as necropsy reports from the racing board, which led to the disclosure that older, arthritic horses had been used in dangerous (and deadly) racing sequences and that the horses appeared not to have been provided with adequate protection. Beyond keeping the horses' plight in the public eye, PETA has also pressed law enforcement to investigate the deaths of the horses used on the set and to bring charges as appropriate. A huge debt of gratitude is owed to the whistle-blowers who refused to let these horses' deaths go unnoticed. If Milch, Mann, and HBO ever decide to start the series up again, PETA will again be calling on them to use stock footage, rather than putting horses' lives at risk.