The former director of the American Humane Association’s film and production unit alleges she was fired because she urged the AHA to report the alleged abuse of horses on the set of the HBO series Luck. In addition to suing her ex-employer for wrongful termination, Barbara Casey also is suing HBO and Stewart Productions for “aiding and abetting” a cover-up of the alleged abuse in the complaint filed Monday in LA County Superior Court (read it here). “AHA bowed to political and financial pressure and refused to report the production defendants’ conduct to the authorities”, according to the the suit. “AHA instructed (Casey) not to report such conduct. AHA engaged in efforts to conceal and cover up the production defendants’ criminal activities”. HBO announced in March that it was canceling the series, starring Dustin Hoffman, after a fourth horse died. HBO released a statement in response to the lawsuit. “We took every precaution to ensure that our horses were treated humanely and with the utmost care, exceeding every safeguard of all protocols and guidelines required of the production. Barbara Casey was not an employee of HBO, and any questions regarding her employment should be directed to the AHA”, HBO said. AHA said in an emailed statement to Deadline that it “is unable to comment on this pending legal matter”. Casey is seeking unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.
Jason Gedrick is joining Season 7 of Dexter in a multi-episode arc. He will play the manager of a Miami-area gentlemen’s club that becomes linked to a high-profile murder case in the Showtime drama, which has its season premiere September 30. Production on Season 7 begins in May in Los Angeles. Gedrick, also a film and stage actor, most recently co-starred in the HBO horse-racing drama Luck, which is not returning for a second season.
Time Warner couldn’t horse around with the figures it had to disclose in its Q1 earnings release this morning: HBO took a $35M impairment charge for its ill-fated series Luck, about race-track gamblers and starring Dustin Hoffman, which was cancelled in March — midway into production for its second season. The show generated so-so ratings, but execs put the series to sleep following an uproar over news that a third horse had died in the production. Naysayers included People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, which said that “old, unfit, and drugged horses were forced to race for this series.” The producers said that they “maintained the highest safety standards throughout production, higher in fact than any protocols existing in horseracing anywhere with many fewer incidents than occur in racing or than befall horses normally in barns at night or pastures.”
2ND UPDATE: In a statement, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals applauded HBO’s decision to end Luck. ”Knowing that old, unfit, and drugged horses were forced to race for this series, PETA is glad that HBO has finally decided to cancel the show,” PETA said. The organization noted that it had urged the show’s producers “to use stock racing footage instead of endangering horses for entertainment purposes” and said that it “has called on law enforcement to investigate the deaths of the horses used on the set and to bring charges as appropriate.”
UPDATED: Luck will be no more on HBO. The pay cable network, along with Luck executive producers David Milch and Michael Mann, just announced that they’re ending the series following yesterday’s horse death, the third on the set of the horse racing drama starring Dustin Hoffman. Luck had been in the middle of production on the second episode of Season 2. The recently completed first episode won’t air. Meanwhile, the remaining two episodes of Luck‘s first season will air as scheduled, with the season finale serving also as a series finale. In the immediate aftermath of yesterday’s horse death, HBO initially said that production on Luck will continue with scenes that don’t involve horses. Now the stoppage will encompass the entire production. As of the time of HBO’s announcement, filming on the series was still underway, with the cast and crew unaware …
UPDATE, WEDNESDAY AM: Although production continues on Season 2 of HBO’s Luck, the network reaffirmed today that it will only shoot scenes that don’t involve horses as an investigation concludes regarding the death of a horse on the Santa Anita set. Although Luck centers on the world of horse racing, the multiple plot lines include gambling, personal stories and business intrigue.
With the media focusing more attention on the death of the horse yesterday at the track, HBO issued a second statement earlier today pledging “full cooperation” with the investigation, being conducted by the American Humane Association. With PETA predictably calling for the show to shut down and questioning the ongoing use of horses in the production, HBO reiterated in the statement sent to the media that an AHA representative had been on the set yesterday, adding that “recent assertions of lax attitudes or negligence could not be further from the truth.”
PREVIOUS, TUESDAY 7 PM: Tragedy struck again on the set of the HBO series Luck where another horse died today. The show, which features intense racing scenes, is currently shooting its second season at Santa Anita Race Track in the L.A. suburb of Arcadia. “An American Humane Association Certified Safety Representative was on the premises when the accident occurred, and as always, all safety precautions were in place,” the network said in a statement. “HBO and everyone involved with the production are deeply saddened, …
EXCLUSIVE: Michael Gambon, who is recurring on the current freshman season of HBO’s Michael Mann/David Milch drama Luck, has been upped to a regular for Season 2. Also joining the upcoming second season of the horse-racing drama is Margarita Levieva in a major recurring role. Gambon, who made his debut on Luck in Episode 4, plays the mythical Mike, an adversary of Dustin Hoffman’s Ace Bernstein. Levieva, repped by The Collective and UTA, will play Sarah Israel, the sister of Nathan Israel, who is pleyed by recurring guest star (and star of USA’s Suits) Patrick J. Adams. Levieva continues her major recurring role on another series, ABC’s freshman Revenge, where she plays a troubled girl who switched identities with the lead character, Emily Thorn/Amanda Clark (Emily VanCamp).
EXCLUSIVE: Another Oscar winner is joining the cast of HBO’s Luck. Mercedes Ruehl has come on board as a series regular for Season 2 of the horse racing drama starring Oscar winner Dustin Hoffman. She plays Julietta Caligari, the mother of Renzo (Ritchie Coster), a role she originates in an upcoming guest appearance on the series’ current freshman season. Luck, from Michael Mann and David Milch, is a behind-the-scenes look at the world of horse racing and gambling’s denizens – owners, trainers, jockeys and gamblers. Hoffman and Nick Nolte, nominated for an Oscar this year, lead the cast of the series, which received a 10-episode second-season pickup last week shortly after its official premiere. Ruehl is with Innovative and manager Craig Dorfman.
On the heels of Luck‘s official premiere on Sunday, HBO has renewed the horse racing drama from Michael Mann and David Milch for a 10-episode second season. The series starring Dustin Hoffman had already been working on scripts for Season 2, and production will begin at the end of February. The network had started prep work early because of the small window it has to film at the Santa Anita racetrack where a significant portion of the show is shot. Luck‘s second season will premiere in January 2013. “We couldn’t be more thrilled with the critical response to this beautiful piece of work, and we are very excited about where David and Michael plan to take these incredible characters,” said HBO Programming president Michael Lombardo. Luck‘s first episode, originally previewed after the Boardwalk Empire season finale in December to 1.1 million viewers, drew another 1.1 million in its regular premiere at 9 PM on Sunday. If that were a true series debut, it would be in line with the launches of such softly rated HBO series as Treme (1.125 million) and the now-defunct Bored To Death (1.034 million). Luck was rebroadcast again at 10 PM (711,000) and 11 PM (420,000) for a total of 3.3 million sampling the pilot in the December preview and on Sunday.
Diane Haithman is contributing to Deadline’s coverage of TCA.
HBO’s new series Luck is about horse racing, but at today’s TCA panel, the sport in question was prize-fighting — whether reported friction between the strong personalities involved in the show led to ego clashes behind the scenes. The contenders: Stars Dustin Hoffman and Nick Nolte, pilot executive producer/director Michael Mann and pilot executive producer/writer David Milch. All four acknowledged their reputations for being difficult, but insisted that peace reigns on Luck. Concerning rumors of contention on the pilot set, Mann said: “It’s ridiculous.” He explained, “There’s a time when any director wants the set to himself” and said a request to have non-participants step away at one point “got contorted into something else.” After the session, Mann said testily, “We’re not four difficult people. People who are insecure don’t have strong egos. We’re good at what we do, so we don’t have insecurity.”
Boardwalk Empire’s second season ended on a high note. The finale, featuring the shocking death of a major character (I won’t reveal more for the sake of procrastinating DVR viewers), averaged a season high 3 million viewers at 9 PM on Sunday. Another 834,000 viewers caught the 11 PM replay for a combined audience of 3.8 million. Sandwiched between the two airings of Boardwalk Empire was a preview of HBO’s new David Milch-Michael Mann series Luck, which premieres January 29. The pilot episode of the horse-racing drama starring Dustin Hoffman averaged 1.1 million viewers, holding onto a third of the Boardwalk Empire finale audience.
David Milch is extending his relationship with HBO. Milch, whose latest series for the pay cable network, Luck, launches in January, has inked a new multi-year deal with HBO where he has been based for the past eight years. Under the new extension, in addition to executive producing Luck with Michael Mann, Milch will develop series and movies based on books by Nobel and Pulitzer Prize winner William Falkner. Milch’s Redboard Prods has inked a deal with the literary estate of the iconic American writer who penned novels, short stories, a play and screenplays as well as poetry and essays. The pact covers all of the 19 novels and 125 short stories in the estate, as well as other works, with the exception of those currently optioned by other parties. Milch will partner with Lee Caplin, the executor of the William Faulkner Literary Estate and CEO of Picture Entertainment Corp, to choose which works to develop, package and produce. Milch and Caplin will be executive producers of those projects, with Milch serving as the executive writer in charge of the adaptions. His daughter Olivia Milch will serve as coordinating producer. The agreement, brokered by ICM, which reps Milch, gives HBO an exclusive first crack at financing, producing and distributing the projects as movies, miniseries and series. “We are especially pleased to continue our longstanding relationship with one of the industry’s most talented contemporary writers,” HBO president of programming Michael Lombardo said. “We know that whatever David brings to the HBO table will be exciting and innovative.”
HBO has picked up talk show Real Time With Bill Maher for a 10th season, the pay cable network announced today at the top of its portion of the summer TCA press tour. Maher recently landed another Emmy nomination for best Variety, Music or Comedy Series, the 27th Emmy nom overall for his HBO series, which is still pursuing its first win. Maher made a brief appearance. “I’m here representing the Hollywood elite,” he said before introducing HBO toppers Co-President Richard Plepler and president of programming Michael Lombardo.
-Lombardo said that Luck, Michael Mann/David Milch’s race track drama, will premiere at the beginning of January and will take over the slot vacated by the departed HBO polygamy drama Big Love. Other premiere date news: Sunday, Sept. 25 (Boardwalk Empire), Oct. 2 (Hung, How to Make It in America), Monday, Oct. 10, (Bored to Death,Enlightened). Lombardo said that HBO brass are “nervously optimistic” about opening a new night of originals on Monday.
-The 2008 drama series The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency is not dead. Lombardo said that the network has just received a couple of new scripts for the Botswana-set drama and are considering continuing it as 2 or more standalone films.
-Plepler and Lombardo had no ETA on when the network’s popular HBO Go on-demand service will be available on one-time corporate sibling Time Warner Cable. “We wish we had the leverage and power to move TWC,” Plepler said, urging customers to put pressure on the cable company. “We’re working as fast as we can to finish the deal.”
-Plepler called the TV Academy’s recent decision to merge the best original movie and miniseries categories “disappointing for us.” “It prevents some writers, director, producers from being recognized but there is nothing we can do about it.” Added Lombardo, “They are 2 distinct genres. (The TV Academy has) separate categories for different kinds of reality shows and yet there is one combined for movies and miniseries. But it is what it is.”
Here is a first look at HBO’s upcoming horse racing drama series Luck from Michael Mann and David Milch. Set to premiere in the fall, it stars Dustin Hoffman and co-stars Dennis Farina, John Ortiz and Nick Nolte. Joan Allen and Michael Gambon are recurring.
Daniel Buran (Level 26: Dark Origins) has joined the cast of Alan Ball’s vampire drama True Blood for a meaty seven-episode arc on the upcoming fourth season. The actor, repped by Rebel and Leverage, will play Raoul, the werewolf packmaster of Shreveport.
Iranian-born character actor Shaun Toub (Iron Man, The Last Airbender) has been added to the cast of another HBO drama series, the upcoming Luck, as a recurring. Luck, a David Milch/Michael Mann collaboration starring Dustin Hoffman, takes a provocative look at horse racing – the owners, gamblers, jockeys and industry players. Abrams Artists-repped Toub will play Doctor Khan, a local emergency room doctor with a surprisingly complicated backstory.
The pay-TV giant has struck an exclusive output deal to be the only place to watch HBO shows from now on. Boardwalk Empire, Martin Scorsese’s series about Atlantic City gangsters, will be the first show to air through the deal in the autumn. Future HBO shows airing exclusively will include Game of Thrones and Luck, executive produced by Michael Mann and starring Dustin Hoffman. The next series of HBO shows such as Entourage and Big Love will also air exclusively on the channel.
Sky is throwing huge amounts of money at programming. It wants to get away from the downmarket image it’s saddled with. Many early adopters lived on council estates – think housing projects – peppering the skyline with satellite dishes. Sky is pulling strenuously upmarket. It’s just announced that it’s taking over ITV’s prestigious arts programme The South Bank Show. And it’s pouring big money into original drama such as Terry Pratchett TV movies and adaptations of crime author Martina Cole.
This year, Sky will spend £1.7 billion ($2.7 billion) on content – most of it on movies and sports rights though. By contrast, ITV will spend £1 billion, Channel 4 £550 million and Channel Five £165 million.
Meanwhile, BSkyB has just announced its fourth-quarter results for the year ending …
HBO has ordered the Dustin Hoffman-starring pilot Luck to series. Luck, from Michael Mann and David Milch, takes a provocative look at horse racing – the owners, gamblers, jockeys and diverse gaming industry players. Production is set to begin this fall at Santa Anita Park and other Los Angeles locations.
“Michael Mann delivered a pilot from David Milch’s brilliant script that took our breath away,” said HBO’s programming president Michael Lombardo. “We are truly excited that these two artists, and our extraordinary cast headed by Dustin Hoffman, will be bringing Luck to life.”
The cast for the pilot, penned by Milch and directed by Mann, also includes Dennis Farina, John Ortiz, Kevin Dunn, Richard Kind, Jason Gedrick, Ritchie Coster, Ian Hart, Tom Payne, Kerry Condon, Gary Stevens and Nick Nolte. Jill Hennessy guest stars. Milch, Mann and Carolyn Strauss execitive produce, with Henry Bronchtein co-executive producing and Hoffman producing.
Luck joins another high-profile new HBO drama series from a big filmmaker and a top TV writer, Martin Scorsese/Terence Winter’s Boardwalk Empire, which stars Steve Buscemi. The network also has two pilots from A-listers, Bill Condon’s Tilda, starring Diane Keaton, Jason Patric and Ellen Page, and John Logan/Kathryn Bigelow’s Miraculous Year starring Norbert Leo Butz, Hope Davis and Frank Langella.