Hollywood heavyweight Dustin Hoffman is claiming a partnership between gossip website TMZ and animal rights group PETA (People for Ethical Treatment of Animals) led to his HBO race horse themed series, Luck, being euthanized.
“If you Google ‘Paulick Report,’ it’s a site for horse racing, and in that report is the real reason why the show was canceled,” Hoffman told Fox News earlier this week. “It was a collaboration between PETA and TMZ. It’s interesting, sites like TMZ, they’re mistaken for news. We did (the 1976 movie) All the President’s Men, and you had to have two sources — and they don’t need any sources. They’re gossip. But the general public believes what they say.”
Luck was cancelled during Season 2 production when a third horse was euthanized after breaking its leg, and producers were accused of mistreatment of the animals.
“It still deeply wounds me,” Hoffman recalled of the show’s March 2012 cancellation. “Not for myself, not for the show, but the pain they caused 400 crew people to have. And I don’t think they lost a moment’s sleep. It’s completely distorted. Anyone who raises horses knows they break their legs. The accusations they made were distorted. Every time we’d race the horses, we’d rest them. They’d race 20 seconds, then we’d rest them for an hour.”
TMZ stands by its reporting of the story, as does PETA, who sent out the following statement in response to Hoffman’s comments:
“Dustin Hoffman must have a really cold streak running through his heart, as he isn’t hesitant to disrespect whistleblowers and animals to advance his agenda,” PETA’s document to The Hollywood Reporter read. “PETA wrote to him on two separate occasions urging him to use his position to help improve welfare conditions for the horses on the set of Luck after we were contacted by a dozen whistleblowers who were part of his production. Had he taken PETA’s warnings seriously instead of ignoring them, the life of the third horse could have been spared, the show might still be on the air, and his crew might still have their jobs.”
Last month, HBO and the American Humane Association were named in a lawsuit filed by the AHA’s former director Barbara Casey, who claimed the series attempted to cover up animal abuse that included horses being drugged, forced to work when they were sick and paperwork was altered to keep safety personnel in the dark.
Luck starred Dustin Hoffman as Chester Bernstein, a career mobster who upon being released from prison plans to take over the Santa Anita race track with help from his long-time buddy, Gus (Dennis Farina).