* This blog is dedicated to the bich (oh yes, I KNOW I spelled it wrong!), moderators at TWOP. Without Strenga et AL, I'd be happily posting-away along with the best of them. Unfortunately, TWOP is a little too heavy-handed, high-falootin' and downright unfriendly.
*(added 2011)-Amended to mean Strega's Real Housewives forum(s) and of course those Bravo Blogs that eat your comments w/o posting them. I still visit TWOP for the best snark.

*(Added April 30th, it has come to my attention that some of the rumors posted on this blog are definitely FALSE. Most rumors are clearly labeled as such, but in case I missed any, please keep that in mind)

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Did Russell Armstrong Kill Bravo's Real Housewives as We Know it?


Along with the shocking-news that Russell Armstrong was found deceased, apparently by suicide, is the question about Bravo's re-action.
The question is not if something must be done, because they have already acknowledged that this event has had an emotional and logistical impact at the network and on The Real Housewives franchise. Here is the statement issued  today by Andy Cohen:
"We're all still trying to process yesterday's very sad news, and looking at how to proceed with the series, which has finished primary production and was set to premiere on Labor Day. We'll let you know what we decide when we do. In the meantime, we're sending our thoughts and prayers to Taylor and the rest of Russell's family. "
Most of us know that Season 2 of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, taped the ongoing marital-strife between Russel and Taylor, and that it was a featured storyline for the upcoming season.
Russell Armstrong was found dead, apparently by suicide, in the home of his lawyer and friend Ronald Richards who made the rounds on the news stations and media outlets.
Although there was a rumored gag-order sent by email to all of The Real Housewives principals, Ronald Richards did not get the memo, or just decided that talking to the media while in a state of shock and grief is a good idea. And he did a lot of talking.
Richards let the world know that Armstrong's credit-cards have recently been declined, and that his divorce was troubling him. He, (Richards-the lawyer/friend), also revealed the fact that Russel was deeply disturbed and troubled by the way that his life had been affected-by The Real Housewives.
In particular, Richards mentioned the intense level of "scrutiny" that Armstrong, (and his past), had been subjected-to because of the publicity , and the financial stress that was caused-by, "bank-rolling" Taylor's career as a Real Housewife, (which he could not afford).
So Bravo's Real Housewives have directly been implicated as part-of whatever Russel Armstrong felt was  a reason to end his life.
We currently do not know how much, if any, of Season 2, Russel had seen. Usually cast-members are given advance copies of up-coming episodes two at a time. We do know that video of Taylor's turmoil over her marriage was being previewed on Bravo.com, but it was deleted as-of today. We do know that Russell Armstrong was being portrayed in the media as a physically-abusive man with a history of physical domestic violence. And that marriage counseling between Taylor and Russell had been taped as part of the up-coming season. And that they were involved in a divorce.
The question now is will the viewers see the episodes that were set to be aired, or will extensive editing/changing be done? Or will Bravo decide just to cut the entire Taylor/Russell storyline from Season 2?
Do we really want to see whatever it is that Russell Armstrong was dreading for us to see?
And- although nobody can ultimately blame Bravo , (or anyone. Suicide and thoughts-of suicide are a symptom-of acute mental illness), for Russell's suicide, will Bravo make any changes to their policies, to protect would-be and current fame-whores and their families from themselves? I've seen Bravo's contract for The Housewives and it states the risks to one's reputation very clearly.
As a viewer and a blogger, I can personally say that a simple disclaimer would go a long way. Something that we could point-to and reference when we're tempted to dig-up those old court-records, tax-forms, and tidbits that are posted online as public-information. 
We know that Countess Luann didn't sponsor a trip to Morocco for The Real Housewives of New York. But by not having a disclaimer, we don't exactly know who paid-for Taylor's 50-thousand dollar kiddee-party. Its very possible that the investors who are suing Russell Armstrong because they thought that they invested in a medical product, paid-for Taylor's entree into reality television?
Is it really necessary to lie there? NeNe's husband, (or is it ex-husband?) Gregg, threw-out a figure-of 300 thousand for his, "investment" in Nene's reality career. And how much-of Joe Giudice's 11 million dollar debt, could be considered a down-payment for Teresa's brand?
Maybe its about time that people can walk into a bank, or the Small Business Association, and tell the truth instead-of lying, scheming, and stealing, all in the name of "reality"?
Reality television isn't going-away any time soon, and maybe the circumstances-of Russel Armstrong's death will help some of the participants? Maybe this very real tragedy will help to highlight the very real risks that people are taking with their own lives and the lives of their families?