Bravo Questions Fate Of 'Real Housewives Of Beverly Hills' After Russell Armstrong's Suicide
Bravo is weighing the future of the reality show "Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" following the apparent suicide of Russell Armstrong, one of the cast member's husbands, on Monday.
Russell Armstrong was the estranged husband of Real Housewife Taylor Armstrong. Their strained marriage was a major storyline in Season 1. More shooting for Season 2, which is set to premiere on September 5, was underway when news of Russell Armstrong's suicide came to light.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, the network was waiting at least 24 hours to decide whether the premiere would be postponed, as of Tuesday. TMZ reports that Bravo has canceled the shooting schedule for Wednesday and called a cast meeting, though a network representative denies that a meeting is taking place.
Bravo has not hinted at how it will proceed, simply saying in a statement, "All of us at Bravo are deeply saddened by this tragic news. Our sympathy and thoughts are with the Armstrong family at this difficult time." Russell Armstrong's role in the show's second season is unknown, but the season premiere showed Taylor Armstrong talking about couples therapy.
One possibility, as Time's James Poniewozik notes, would be to scrap the season premiere. Another would be to address Russell Armstrong's death in the show, though he noted the series "would have to become a much different kind of show." He added, "It could seem exploitative to air a season after the death."
The tragedy raises questions about whether the pressures of being on a reality show figured into Armstrong's suicide. Taylor Armstrong filed for divorce in July, citing physical and verbal abuse by her husband. He had told People magazine, "Did I push her? Yes, maybe things happened in the heat of the moment, but it was during a time in our lives that was not characteristic of who we were. This show has literally pushed us to the limit."
A lawyer for Russell Armstrong, Ronald Richards, also told TMZ that Russell Armstrong had been facing tremendous debt, exacerbated by funding a lavish lifestyle for the cameras.