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The cast and crew of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills have been told that the Sept. 5 season premiere will be pushed least one week and possibly longer in the wake of the apparent suicide of Russell Armstrong, the estranged husband of cast member Taylor Armstrong.
A source close to the show tells The Hollywood Reporter that executives from Bravo and producer Evolution Entertainment met with cast members Tuesday in Los Angeles to discuss the fate of the show. Some close to the production are encouraging the network to scrap the season altogether, especially considering some of the Armstrong-related storylines.
“People are concerned about being associated with the show and his passing,” a source tells THR.
But while re-editing of episodes is likely, the source says Bravo does not currently plan to cancel the season entirely. According to the source, the executives did say that the premiere date will be delayed beyond Sept 5. A Bravo spokesperson says that no decision on the premiere has been made. She declines to elaborate further.
It’s unclear how heavily Russell Armstrong was to be featured in season two of the hit reality series. He does not appear in the premiere episode sent to television critics, but Taylor Armstrong is seen agonizing over attending marriage counseling with Russell and is shown shopping for lingerie to help heat up their sex life. Taylor Armstrong confirmed last July that she had filed for divorce.
It has become increasingly clear that Russell Armstrong was unhappy with his portrayal on the show. Reports have surfaced that production was briefly suspended earlier this summer after he threatened to sue cast members who disparaged him on camera. Taylor Armstrong said that he verbally and physically abused her, and while reality show contracts generally grant tremendous leeway vis-a-vis defamation, the specter of legal action may have been enough to put a chilling effect on other characters’ interaction with Taylor Armstrong.
A member of Armstrong’s family said they are considering filing a lawsuit against the network. “Bravo is at fault and somebody needs to pay,” Russell’s step-brother Wade Jackson told the website RadarOnline. “Russell’s whole family was very close and they’re considering suing Bravo.”
Meanwhile, Russell Armstrong’s own statements about the strain the show put on his marriage are being given new weight now.
In an interview in July with People magazine, Taylor Armstrong revealed that her estranged husband was verbally and physically abusive. And Russell Armstrong complained that the show had put additional stress on their marriage.
“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,” he said. “This show has literally pushed us to the limit.”
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