'Luck' Really Soured HBO on Working With Animals

A year after the highly publicized deaths of several horses and the short-lived drama's cancellation, Michael Lombardo and Richard Plepler say other critter series are unlikely.
Gusmano Cesaretti/HBO

The dust may have finally settled on the publicity nightmare of Luck, but the HBO series' dramatic cancellation came up again during CEO Richard Plepler and programming president Michael Lombardo's session with reporters during Thursday's Television Critics Association press tour. 

STORY: 'Luck' Horse Death Lawsuit Against HBO Likely Dismissed

HBO had initially ordered a second season of the racetrack drama starring Dustin Hoffman, but the widely reported deaths of several horses prompted them to pull the plug on the project completely.

"Would you think twice about doing a show that relied on using animals again?" asked one reporter.

"Yes!" Lombardo exclaimed, leaning toward the crowd. "Yes!"

"Certainly thoroughbred racehorses," joked Plepler before his colleague suggested cows might not be off the table completely.

In addition to the expensive scrapping of Luck's second season and the bad publicity, the network only recently saw itself dismissed from a wrongful termination suit involving the former production director of the American Humane Association's film and television unit. (Barbara Casey had claimed she was fired at the network's urging when she urged the AHA to do more about the horse deaths.)

"Thoroughbreds are an exotic animal," added Lombardo. "There was way too much downside. … I'm not as interested in a pitch where animals are as critical to the storyline. That was difficult for us."