It was a total shock when Russell Armstrong, the estranged and reportedly abusive husband of Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star Taylor Armstrong, suddenly committed suicide last August. The tragic incident also left the show’s producers and the Bravo network unsure how to address the sensitive issue.
In his newly released tell-all book, Most Talkative: Stories From the Front Lines of Pop Culture, Andy Cohen explains what went into Bravo’s tough decision to air certain aspects of the Armstrongs’ ordeal.
According to him, producers had originally planned to end the season on a positive note, with a party at Lisa Vanderpump’s restaurant following Taylor’s decision to leave her husband. Andy was on vacation when the news of Russell’s death dropped.
“I was stunned. Speechless,” he writes. “[I] immediately thought of Taylor, and especially of their daughter, Kennedy. Next came thoughts about the position we were in. What should Bravo do? The suicide raised many questions that nobody ever even dreamed would come up. We had to figure out what we should do with a show in which Taylor and Russell’s story played a big, dark, and real part.”
Andy explained that he and the showrunners decided to go back and edit out certain portions of the season’s episodes that “weren’t funny anymore,” given the news, and “small mentions of Russell.” One big edit came in the season’s third episode, with the deletion of a scene “illustrating how cold Russell and Taylor’s marriage was.”
Andy and the others decided to leave some of Russell and Taylor’s marital struggles in the show because, “In the end, what we had ... was an honest depiction of what happened to a woman in the midst of an unhappy marriage,” Andy wrote. “She found the strength, with the support of her friends, to leave. It was real life.”
Bravo was also forced to deal with claims that reality TV led to Russell Armstrong’s untimely death. But Andy maintains, “I do not believe to this day that Russell Armstrong killed himself as a result of the show.”
Source: Most Talkative: Stories From the Front Lines of Pop Culture
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