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Tuning in to TV: Lawsuit: Horses mistreated on HBO’s canceled ‘Luck’

- - Sunday, January 6, 2013

Several of the horses used on HBO's canceled series "Luck" were drugged, underweight and sick during production, an animal rights worker who oversaw conditions on the show alleges in a lawsuit.

Barbara Casey's suit filed last week said she was wrongfully fired from her post at the American Humane Association after complaining about the conditions horses faced on the show, which was canceled after a series of high-profile animal deaths.

The suit claims four horses died during the show's production, not three as previously reported, according to The Associated Press. Horses were "often drugged to perform," and "underweight and sick horses unsuited for work were routinely used" by producers, her lawsuit alleges.

Ms. Casey is suing HBO, which repeatedly has denied abusing horses on the show, and the humane association. The association declined to comment, citing the pending 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," HBO wrote in a statement.

Ms. Casey's suit states she urged the humane association to report HBO and producers to authorities for possible animal-cruelty criminal charges.

The association "bowed to political and financial pressure and refused to report the production defendants' conduct to the authorities," the lawsuit states.

Ms. Casey served as director of the association's Film and Television Unit, which oversees animal welfare and often allows a notice to be attached to the end of films and television shows that says no animals were harmed during production. The nonprofit association's film- and TV-monitoring efforts are paid for through entertainment industry grants, according to the lawsuit.

HBO canceled "Luck," starring Dustin Hoffman, in March 2012 after three horse deaths were reported during production. Ms. Casey claims a fourth horse, named Hometrader, was killed in summer 2011 but its demise wasn't documented because it occurred during a hiatus in filming.

Ms. Casey's lawsuit seeks unspecified damages.

Ty Pennington to host new series for HLN

Ty Pennington is doing some traveling again, this time for the HLN television network.

HLN said Wednesday that Mr. Pennington, who stars in "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition," will host a monthly series called "American Journey." It will focus on people with unusual lifestyles, and debuts Saturday, according to The Associated Press. Each episode will air multiple times over the weekend on the network formerly known as CNN Headline News, with a new edition starting each month.

Early episodes will focus on lobstermen and Delta blues musicians.

Mr. Pennington said he wants to follow the growing subculture of entrepreneurs and creative thinkers trying to rebuild the country.

Gunn expands mentoring to Disney's 'Sofia the First'

Tim Gunn has advised divas for years on "Project Runway," so working with a princess is no big deal.

In the new Disney Junior animated series "Sofia the First," Mr. Gunn's royal steward character, Baileywick, helps the young Sofia adapt to royal life after her mother marries a king. Baileywick not only helps Sofia (voiced by Ariel Winters) dress like a royal, but he also guides her on developing manners, grace and an independent spirit.

"I feel very comfortable in this role," he said in an Associated Press interview.

Certainly, 2- to 7-year-old children are a new audience, Mr. Gunn said, but being a teacher who knows when to give congratulations and critiques -- and how to look after his charge -- are skills he's honed for most of his professional life. Before Heidi Klum came calling for him to work on TV with aspiring designers, Mr. Gunn was chair of Parsons the New School for Design fashion department.

Mr. Gunn, 59, said he enjoys sometimes veering from the expected career path. A few years ago, Marvel Comics turned him into a superhero to save a fashion exhibit.

"When Marvel asked if I would do it, they asked with trepidation. They were nervous that I wouldn't, but who doesn't want to be their own comic book superhero?" Mr. Gunn said. "I said I'd do it in a heartbeat, and it was the same way with Disney."

Disney launched the characters in a TV movie just before Thanksgiving. The regular series debuts Friday.

The message of "Sofia the First" is a good one, Gunn says: Looking the part only gets you halfway there and then you have to act like a leader and be nice to people at the same time. "If I had a child, I would want my child watching this for the lesson in moral character."

Dempsey bid for coffee chain appears to have won

Actor Patrick Dempsey said it appears his bid to buy a small coffee chain has prevailed in a bankruptcy auction that included Starbucks Corp.

Late Thursday night, Mr. Dempsey announced that his company, Global Baristas LLC, made the winning bid for Tully's Coffee. He noted in a KOMO-TV interview that a bankruptcy judge will have the final say on Friday. Still, Mr. Dempsey tweeted "We got it! Thank you Seattle!"

Mr. Dempsey's company will pay $9.15 million for Tully's and complete the purchase later this month after the court hearing, he said in a statement.

"I'm thrilled that we won and I'm even more excited about saving Tully's Coffee and its hundreds of jobs," he said. "Tully's is a great company with committed employees, and with its base in Seattle, one of the world's greatest cities, I'm confident we will be able to successfully build the brand and help grow the economy. "

Tully's Coffee has 47 company-owned locations in Washington and California. The company, with more than 500 employees, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in October.

Mr. Dempsey, who gained the nickname "McDreamy" on the TV show "Grey's Anatomy" set in a fictional Seattle hospital, has said he wants to rescue the chain.

"Seattle has been very good to me over my career, and I am honored to have the privilege to own Tully's and work closely with the company's employees," he said in his statement.