'The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills': reediting and rumors
This post has been corrected. See the note below for details.
In the wake of Russell Armstrong's suicide, "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" will be reedited, though Bravo isn't going into specifics yet about whether his role in the show would be eliminated or simply marginalized.
Show Tracker confirmed Bravo's decision Friday, noting that it was unclear whether the show's Sept. 5 premiere date would be moved.
One opinion expressed Thursday by attorney Ronald Richards and nephew Austin Kelsoe, speaking separately: All footage of Russell Armstrong or associated with him should be edited out of the show, out of respect for his estranged wife, Taylor, and his three children. Though Russell's stepbrother had spoken about filing a lawsuit against Bravo, Richards told Show Tracker that the parents, who wanted the edits, had no such plans, and the stepbrother had no legal standing.
At the same time, Richards denied anonymously sourced reports from the New York Post and from TMZ that Russell Armstrong was secretly gay and that he'd hit Taylor Armstrong in the face hard enough to crack bones in her cheeks, according to the Wrap. He accused Taylor's camp of starting a "posthumous smear campaign."
Her attorney, Troy Christiansen, said he'd heard no such allegations from his client. Taylor Armstrong filed for divorce in July, and a preview of the "RHOBH" second season — available before her estranged husband's body was found hanged on Monday — showed her crying over her marital problems.
Richards accused Taylor Armstrong of keeping Russell's parents in the dark about funeral arrangements she was making, an allegation Christiansen denied. Covered up to avoid being photographed, an "obviously distraught" Taylor kept an appointment Friday at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in L.A., Radar Online said.
A friend said Russell Armstrong told him Bravo producers had picked the Armstrongs "as the 'disaster couple,' and if they weren't going to have drama in the second season, they would cut them and replace them with someone else." Speaking with the Times earlier this week, the friend, William Ratner, called the show Russell's "downfall."
However, a Bravo rep said, "Production has assured us that there is no truth to these claims."
"It will be interesting to see what they decide, since there is no denying that, even though participation in the show did not cause Russell Armstrong's problems, it certainly exacerbated them," Times television critic Mary McNamara said in an analysis published Friday.
"No one can, or should, keep Bravo from creating more 'Real Housewives,' and no one can, or should, keep an adult from participating in a reality show," McNamara added. "It's viewers who should take Armstrong's death as an opportunity to reflect on what it is they are watching and why."
[For the record, 6:15 p.m. Aug. 21: This post originally referred to attorney Ronald Richards incorrectly as Robert Richards.]
-- Christie D'Zurilla
Reuters contributed to this report.
Photo: The cast and crew of "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" accept the best reality series award at the Critics' Choice Television Awards on June 20 in Beverly Hills. RHOBH tied for the award with "Hoarders." Credit: Matt Sayles / Associated Press