LUCK:  Dennis Farina, Dustin Hoffman

Gusmano Cesaretti/HBO

Dustin Hoffman's Luck didn't last but not for the reasons people think.

In a sit-down with Fox News to promote his directorial debut, Quartet, the Oscar winner sounded off on his disappointment over the HBO horse racing drama's cancellation in the wake of three equine deaths.

But he also defended the production, saying that accidents happen and claiming that the real reason the show got the axe was due to "distorted" claims pushed by PETA.

"It's completely distorted. Anyone who raises horses know they break their legs. The accusations they made were distorted," Hoffman told the site. "Every time we'd race the horses we'd rest them. They'd race 20 seconds, then we'd rest them for an hour."

The 75-year-old thesp then went on to blast TMZ, questioning the site's journalistic integrity, especially for the "pain" it put the 400-person crew through, and took a shot at the animal rights group for alleged opportunism.

"I think they [PETA] were looking to get contributions. Somebody ought to do a movie about them," he added.

The Midnight Cowboy star also suggested folks check out horse racing website Paulick Report for "the real reason the show was canceled"—which it said had to do with PETA's mission to shut down Luck because "it wants to end the use of animals for entertainment."

For its part, TMZ countered that its allegations still jived with facts listed in the Paulick Report: that three horses died during production; that one was euthanized on set; and that HBO acknowledged the deaths, stating "accidents unfortunately happen."

Wendy Wegner, a rep for PETA, fired back at the actor, accusing him in a statement of ignoring what it said amounted to evidence of animal abuse.
"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," read the statement. "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."

There is an ongoing investigation by law enforcement, the California Horse Racing Board and the California Veterinary Medical Association into the horses' death.

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