Category: Real Housewives of Beverly Hills

'Real Housewives of Beverly Hills' recap: Wedge issues

Rhobh

As my mother told me before I had even stopped dragging my Snoopy around by one ear, it's good to have a job. It keeps your brain alert, it keeps you financially independent, and, if Monday night's show can be taken as a guide, it keeps you from being a drunk, an anorexic or an extremely vituperative cancer fundraiser who gathers all her friends in a dismal restaurant in the back of a mall, feeds them lollipops and makes fun of a woman wearing crutches.

If last week's show was about Have-it-togethers and Definitely-do-nots, this week was about a demarcation between which lady Has Things to Occupy Herself and which Definitely Does Not.

The first evidence of the great gulf between the employed and sorely under-employed came at the expense of my new favorite cast member Adrienne Maloof, who offered Kim a trip to Sacramento to accompany her on the deeply traumatic goodbye she was offering Sacramento fans, who were losing their beloved team, the Kings, to a new arena.

This “real” event (fyi to reader: Actual things happening in "Real Housewives" land are few and far between) did not -- despite massive crowds, beefed-up security and Adrienne’s own tension at how to best say goodbye to the possibly enraged city -- stop Kim from babbling in her ear the entire time about diamonds and passersby and her own need for routine. Mr. Adrienne increasingly insisted that his wife, you know, feel free to watch the game, and Adrienne did manage, finally, to descend and walk among the people, both placating them and honoring them, a massive task that still seemed, in the final determination, far easier than getting Kim to be quiet.

And what a contrast this was to Kyle’s “Children With Cancer” charity event, yet another one of the galas that seems to spring up glumly in Housewife territory, like a heap of mushrooms after a season of inclement weather. Held in what Lisa kindly called “a godforsaken restaurant in the back of the mall” (and she, with her increasingly successful Villa Blanca, would know), the thrown-together event did manage to raise $15,000, but it seemed more primed to raise the ire of the Housewives, who turned the full force of their malice on the new girl, Brandi Glanville, best known for being left by Eddie Cibrian for LeAnne Rimes.

“Her claim to fame is that Eddie Cibrian left her for LeAnne Rimes,” Kyle whispered evilly to Taylor, Faye Resnick and whomever else she could find. Yes! Kyle! We know! Forget that this was an unbearably rude comment to make about Brandi, who’d come as a friend of the Maloof’s. Forget that the 9-foot Brandi came in a cast and crutches to a seatless event, sporting a wedge that Kyle seemed determined to mock as a stiletto. (Projecting much, oh shiv-er?)

But the pot with lustrous stresses was calling the 9-foot Brandi kettle black. As Bravo Andy revealed Monday night on "Watch What Happens Live," Kyle had recently asserted her own insignificance to a far greater arbiter of wedge issues -- President Obama, who revealed that he, yes, in fact, had no idea who she was but that his wife, Michelle, watched the show. 

Oh, Kyle, had you known, might you have checked some of your venom? Taylor, would you have stopped obsessing about who leaked to the press that you were too skinny? (I don’t know. Anyone who SAW YOU?) Kim, might you have laid off the sauce for awhile? Lisa and Adrienne, consumed with their businesses and families, have no judgment to fear from the equally busy first lady. But if anyone could make the other ladies learn how to behave when you're no longer pulling a paycheck, it’s the Greatest (White)House-wife of Them All.

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Complete coverage of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills

-- Lizzie Skurnick. Follow her on Twitter @lizzieskurnick.

Credit: "Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" cast. Credit: Richard McLaren / Bravo

'Real Housewives of Beverly Hills' recap: Baggage handlers

Rhobh

Poor Housewives. Here they are, at the modest multimillion-dollar ski cabin of their newly charming friend, Camille, simply trying to enjoy a private chef, breathtaking views and a glass of wine or two. Still, despite their teetering Prada boots, precise blowouts and make-up-artist-applied smokey eyes, one drunken blonde can still make the whole thing go pear-shaped.

Though the greater Housewives franchise has given us plenty of women literally forced to sell the clothes off their backs to maintain house and home, in their second season, Haves and Have-Nots are not the ruling demarcation of our well-padded Beverly Hills clan. Rather, as we get to know them better, the ladies have begun to rather awkwardly separate into two far more interesting camps: the Have-it-Togethers and Definitely-do-Nots, with Adrienne, Lisa, Kyle and new member Camille leading up the former, and the slurred-voiced Taylor and Kim staggering around to unsteadily hold up the banner of the latter.

Truly straining the Definitely Does Not meter of course, is Taylor, whose Beaver Creek Breakdown at Camille's spread put RHONY's Kelly Bensimon's pathetic jelly bean debacle to shame. After being drunkenly plied with advice and white wine in a hot tub by a disingenuously solicitous and well-coiffed Kyle, Taylor put on a spa robe to wake Kim from a dead sleep to weepily apologize for being such a jerk in the last season.

This was a nice, if somewhat overwrought, gesture, but what followed was a wipeout no ski concierge could prevent. First, the weeping Taylor placed herself under a heap of towels in Kyle's suitcase, deep in a closet. Discovered, she was shepherded back to her room by a wide-eyed but grimly "Oh, ha ha ha, you impish creature!" Kyle and Kim. But what happened next no one could dispense with faux cheer (or fur). Discovering her blue-and-red-flowered makeup bag was missing, Taylor peered ghoulishly like a death's head into the bathroom mirror while a crowd of fluttering Housewives searched, casting more-than-concerned glances behind her back. By cocktails, Adrienne had moved to openly telling Taylor she was having a nervous breakdown, which Taylor proceeded to soundly confirm by weeping through the entire dinner, pausing only when the chef emerged to extol the virtues of her ginger-carrot soup.

By the end of the trip, Team Has it Together, only trained to hold off fake-cigarette-puffing psychics, went from mildly concerned to nonplussed to practically backing away. At the airport,  hauling their 12,000 bags back to Beverly Hills (Taylor, now extricated, was walking upright), they'd reached the tacit agreement that their friend had passed beyond any help that lip gloss -- or lip service -- could give.

After the recent suicide of Taylor's husband, Russell Armstrong, Bravo pulled the series back for a re-edit. Their spin was that Taylor and Armstrong's storyline would be edited to adjust to the new circumstances, presumably to show more respect for the deceased. This, unsurprisingly, has not happened, although I think it's too early to tell if the clear augmentation of Taylor's misery -- as well as the intimations of physical abuse by Russell -- are necessarily the worst thing. Because, in fact, the rest of the episode took pains to explore visions of marriages that were far healthier. Lisa and Mr. Jiggy went to look at a new restaurant space to expand her successful Sur, and Mr. Jiggy gave firm but constructive criticism to his wife's plans, kind of sexily, I might add. (I admit it! I find Mr. Jiggy's constructive criticism sexy!) Kyle and Mauricio went out to a dinner in which they had an actual discussion about her sister, one in which Mauricio pointed out that he might be able to patch up his relationship with Kim, though it would take more work than Kyle needed. And the humorously pugnacious Maloof mate repeatedly tried to dissuade his wife from traveling to the epicenter of the enraged fans of her sports team, The Sacramento Kings, while simultaneously telling her that whatever she did, he would be going along.

The point is, the men disagreed with their wives, but as a result of love and engagement with their family, not separation and distance. It's not surprising the Bravo Andy (I can't think of him as anything but his Twitter handle) chose to launch the resumption of the network's aftershow, "Watch What Happens Live," with the warm but ruthless person of "Millionaire Matchmaker's" Patti Stanger as his guest, not any of the Housewives themselves.

The uncannily correct dating guru is as close to a relationship therapist as the network has, and if anyone's qualified to drop useful knowledge while maintaining gravitas about the recent death (if only from the recent round of facial injections), it's she. I'm going to be watching closely -- and agreeing with Andy it's a silent mitzvah we don't have to depend on Rachel Zoe.

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--Lizzie Skurnick. Follow her on Twitter @lizzieskurnick

"Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" cast. Photo credit: Richard McLaren/Bravo

'Real Housewives of Beverly Hills' recap: Friends in tight spaces

Photo: Camille Grammer, Taylor Armstrong and Kyle Richards. Credit: Bill Ross / BravoThough it seems inconceivable for a show in which a 7,000-square-foot-house is affectionately termed 'small,' this week's "Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" featured our favorite ladies -- used to swanning around in spaces with five-digit square footage, with outdoor expanses to match -- forced to share a glorified puddle jumper, squashed together for four hours in a stretch limo on cold Colorado roads and (in Kyle and Kim's case) bundled together in one very tense bed.

Last week, in a nod to the very sad real-life suicide of Russell Armstrong, ex-husband of housewife Taylor Armstrong, the producers led by assembling the ladies in a weepy post-series post-mortem at the Maloofs', where they all pledged to help Taylor during this difficult time. That out of the way, Bravo immediately returned to the start of the series' timeline, with the ladies jumping to the aid of Camille to console her over the necessary sale of her Beaver Creek spread after her divorce from Kelsey Grammer. (Lisa Vanderpump, no real-estate slouch herself, had the humor to acidly comment that Camille would soon be down to only two or three properties.)

The housewives-only jaunt is now a series standby with its own tropes and conventions, and this trip was no exception: overstuffed suitcases for two days of travel, high-octane confrontations in small vehicles, and the inevitable pairing-offs, reconciliations and awkward encounters that accompany six grown women stuck in what amounts to an extremely well-appointed slumber party.

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'Real Housewives' Season 2 premiere numbers are in

Real Housewives premiere ratings 

Curiosity about how Bravo would handle the Season 2 premiere of Bravo's "Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" following the recent death of Russell Armstrong translated to nearly 2.2 million viewers.

It's a slight dip from the 2.76 million viewers the series drew for its debut season finale back in January but a bump from last year's premiere, which drew 1.5 million viewers.

The Monday night premiere featured a brief segment with the "Housewives" and their husbands discussing the recent suicide of Armstrong, the estranged husband of Taylor, who did not participate.  

Bravo had been under microscope in the aftermath of Armstrong's death, with critics questioning how the network would proceed with the season in light of the senstive situation. The network decided on re-editing the season. How exactly that would unfold is still to be determined. The first episode scrapped a scene, which appeared in the original version, of Taylor shopping for lingerie in an attempt to spice up her marriage. Still intact was the dinner party scene that focused on Taylor defending her decision to attempt couples therapy with Russell.

"The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" airs Monday nights on Bravo.

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Photo: Kim Richards, left, Adrienne Maloof, Kyle Richards, Taylor Armstrong, Camille Grammer, Lisa VanderPump. Credit: Evans Vestal Ward/Bravo.

No decision made on airing 'Real Housewives' counseling sessions

Real Housewives of Beverly Hills 
Despite reports to the contrary, Bravo has not yet made a decision on whether the counseling sessions between the late Russell Armstrong and his estranged wife Taylor will make it to air on "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills."

The couple's counseling sessions with Dr. Charles Sophy were filmed and slated to appear on the series. In the aftermath of Armstrong's suicide, the network opted to re-edit the series, leaving the fate of the footage unclear. Reports surfaced Tuesday that the network would proceed with airing the sessions -- premature guesswork, according to the network.

"The producers and Bravo are in the process of re-editing the entire series," a network spokesperson said.  "As a result, any report regarding the content of upcoming episodes is mere speculation.”

In the second-season opener, the footage  was re-edited to exclude a scene of Taylor browsing for lingerie (an attempt to spice up her marriage). Still intact was the heated dinner scene in which Taylor is shown trying to defend her decision to attend couples therapy.

"The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" airs Monday nights on Bravo.

-- Yvonne Villarreal

twitter.com/villarrealy

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Photo: Kyle Richards, left, and Taylor Armstrong in a scene from the second-season premiere of "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills." Credit: Bravo.

'Real Housewives': Suicide should have scrapped Season 2

The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills in Season One 
There's nothing that a little cosmetic surgery can't fix, including, apparently, suicide.

The only meaningful statement Bravo could have made after the suicide last month of “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” spouse Russell Armstrong would have been to cancel Season 2, which depicts, among other things, the collapse of the Armstrong marriage.

That, of course, was not going to happen — any hint of responsibility would have been taken as an admission that being on television has become an attractive nuisance, like an unfenced swimming pool. Instead, after offering their heartfelt condolences, the producers simply re-edited the season premiere a bit and added a preface, filmed Aug. 29, in which the cast directly addressed the tragedy.

Which meant, for five minutes or so, all the housewives except Armstrong's wife Taylor — in full hair, makeup and Jackie O. sunglasses — converged on Adrienne Maloof's over-kitschy manse to reassure themselves that they had nothing to feel guilty about.

Photos: Reality TV's troubled stars

Looking serious and dabbing occasionally at their eyes, they each professed their shock and sorrow (“I never saw any sign of it,” “I don't think any of us saw any sign of it”) just as if they had actually been friends with Armstrong and not simply participants in a franchise built around the drama of discord, including and especially marital problems.

In other words, they reacted to his death in character, maintaining the fiction that their show was more or less a documentary rather than a manipulated if not outright scripted drama in which certain participants were encouraged to play certain roles. Even for a spouse, Armstrong was rarely seen in Season 1, and when he appeared it was simply to illustrate the complaints Taylor had about him — he was distant, he was cold, he worked too much, he did not want her “to have fun” (which appeared, even last year, to be code for “he doesn't really want to be on this show”).

When the issue of “casting” was raised in the preface, when Kim Richards suggested that perhaps the friends (i.e. the show) concentrated too much on Taylor's unhappiness at the expense of Armstrong's, the rest of the cast quickly disagreed — “I don't think even Taylor knew,” said Lisa Vanderpump. “We were all told the same thing,” said Camille Grammer. “We were all acting on what we were told.”

Blinking away their tears, they all agreed they would not have done anything different, and then Kyle Richards stepped up to the narrative plate: “A lot of us have guilt about not seeing this coming,” she said. “You can't feel responsible for that. It was his choice, it was his choice,” she added, and it was not clear whether she referred to Armstrong's suicide or his decision to do the show. But her final declaration was clear enough — “It's hard for me to move forward, it was such a tragic situation. But as difficult as this is, life goes on.”

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'Real Housewives of Beverly Hills' to air as scheduled

Real Housewives will air Sept. 5
"The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" will stick to its Sept. 5 premiere, the network announced Wednesday.

“Bravo will proceed with the Monday, September 5 premiere date of ‘The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills,’” said Frances Berwick, president of Bravo media, in a statement. "Given that these episodes were filmed months ago, the producers of the show taped a brief interview this week with several of the cast members to introduce the premiere. Re-editing of the episodes is still underway."

Berwick added, "Our thoughts continue to be with the Armstrong family during this difficult time.”

The network is teaming with the Entertainment Industries Council Inc. to raise awareness about suicide prevention and will air various PSA’s during the series.  

The decision is one that could have already been surmised considering the network is just days away from the premiere. Since the Aug. 15 death of Russell Armstrong, the network had been mulling over how to proceed with the season, which documented Armstrong and wife Taylor's marriage breakdown. The network eventually decided on reediting, but until now hadn't come to a decision on whether to push back the premiere date.

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-- Yvonne Villarreal

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 Photo: The cast of "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills." Credit: Bravo

Bravo special addresses 'Real Housewives' suicide

Bravo to air special on Russell Armstrong's death 
Bravo will air a special addressing the suicide of Russell Armstrong, the estranged husband of "Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" star Taylor Armstrong, sources close to production told Show Tracker.

The ladies of the show -- Lisa Vanderpump, Camille Grammer, Kyle and Kim Richards, and Adrienne Maloof--filmed the special Monday; Taylor was not present. It's unclear if the special will air before or after the premiere of the show's second season.

An individual close to one of the "Housewives" said the ladies were not given specifics as to how things would unfold during their sit-down and that it was intended as a way to get their reactions to what happened.

The second season is still on the books as premiering Sept. 5; the network has wrapped the re-editing of the premiere episode. In the original version, Taylor is shown shopping for lingerie in an attempt to spice up her marriage and she later becomes emotional when discussing her attempt at marriage counseling.

A representative for Bravo would not elaborate on whether the scenes remained in the final cut.

-- Yvonne Villarreal and Amy Kaufman

 

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Photo: The ladies of "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills." Credit: Bravo

Bravo will reedit 'Real Housewives of Beverly Hills' after death

Russell_Taylor_Armstrong

Bravo has opted to reedit footage from the second season of 'The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" in light of the recent death of featured husband Russell Armstrong, Showtracker has confirmed. It's still unclear if the premiere date, originally set for Sept. 5, will be moved.

A spokesperson from Bravo declined to specify how exactly the footage will be rejiggered (if Armstrong's appearance will be eliminated completely or if his involvement will be restructured and marginalized).

The network's president, Frances Berwick, told Variety, "Contrary to what is being reported, we have not made a decision to change our original premiere date but we are in the process of reediting the show."

Armstrong was found dead at a Mulholland Drive home on Monday night after hanging himself. His death prompted many to wonder how the network would move forward with the season, given Armstrong's role in wife Taylor's storyline. Much of the second season was supposed to chronicle the couple as their marital woes played out; Taylor filed for divorce in July.

The network's announcement comes after family members already expressed their views on how the situation should be handled. A nephew of Armstrong appeared on "Good Morning America" earlier in the week saying footage of the 47-year-old should be edited out. Armstrong's attorney, Ronald Richards, told ShowTracker that Armstrong's mother and father not only want footage of Armstrong taken out, but also footage of those associated with him -- which would include Taylor and the couple's daughter Kennedy.

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-- Yvonne Villarreal

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Photo: Russell Armstrong, left, the estranged husband of "Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" star Taylor Armstrong. Credit: David Livingston / Getty Images

Russell Armstrong's death: How the family wants Bravo to proceed

Russell_Armstrong 

The family of Russell Armstrong, the “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” husband found dead Monday night, thinks Bravo should edit footage of Armstrong -- and those associated with him -- out of the show, according to Ronald Richards, Armstrong’s attorney.

Richards told Showtracker Thursday that “everyone on Russell’s side wants Bravo to edit him out and any characters affiliated with him this season” — including footage of Taylor Armstrong. “It would be bad taste for all three of Russell’s children to air scenes of their father who is dead.”

The sentiment echoes one made earlier Thursday morning by Armstrong’s nephew, Austin Kelsoe, who appeared on "Good Morning America": "I think, in my opinion, Russell should be edited out, in respect to Taylor and the family," Kelsoe said. "In my personal opinion, Bravo should take the high road and do what they think is the right thing to do."

A person close to Taylor's camp says the "Real Housewives" star has spoken to no one but family and lawyers, but "she’s aware that the network is intently discussing all the issues that are relevant to making a decision."

Although the second season of "Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" was originally scheduled to premiere Sept. 5, the network has not yet made a decision on whether the season will be postponed or re-edited—and offered no concrete timeline on when a judgment will likely happen.

Armstrong was found dead at a Mullholland Drive home on Monday night after hanging himself. An autopsy performed Wednesday confirmed that his death was a suicide.

The decision on how to handle the delicate situation is no doubt a tough one for the network:  Russell Armstrong is likely to be integral to Taylor’s storyline for the second season, with cameras documenting her struggle to save their marriage. In a screener of the upcoming season premiere, which was mailed to television media a couple of weeks ago, Taylor is shown buying lingerie in an attempt to spice up their love life and discussing their attempt at couples therapy. One source told the Times that Bravo filmed the couple’s therapy sessions — something a network spokesperson couldn’t confirm.

Continue reading »

Russell Armstrong's death: Does it say anything about reality TV?

Russell_And Taylor_Armstrong

Russell Armstrong was thrust into the spotlight last fall in "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills," the strait-laced husband of series cast member Taylor Armstrong.  By early Tuesday morning, he became a tragic reality TV footnote as news broke that he had been found dead Monday night in an apparent suicide.

Armstrong and his wife appeared to be living the sort of lavish lifestyle typical of those often featured on the Bravo series. But, as has been the case with some "Housewives" cast members, the lens only captured the surface.

The 47-year-old, who described himself as a venture capitalist, was a struggling entrepreneur who racked up $12 million in debt in the tech bust and had recently been sued with his wife in the alleged diversion of investor money.

Some questioned whether Armstrong's appearance on "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" -- known for showcasing an affluent lifestyle -- may have contributed in some way to Armstrong's unraveling.

"'The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills,' I think, was [Russell's] downfall. The TV show put a lot of pressure on him to produce financially. You're on a show with a couple like the Maloofs, who are verifiable billionaires, and you're not," said friend William Ratner, referring to "Housewives" personality Adrienne Maloof, whose family owns the Sacramento Kings as well as Las Vegas' Palms casino resort.

Read "Did 'Real Housewives' have a role in Russell Armstrong's death?" for more on his financial situation, what people who knew him had to say, and Bravo's response.

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Photo: Russell Armstrong, left, with wife Taylor Armstrong. Credit: Getty Images

 

'Real Housewives of Beverly Hills' husband Russell Armstrong found dead

Taylor-russell-armstrong

Russell Armstrong, whom viewers came to know as the straight-laced husband of Taylor Armstrong on "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills," was found dead Monday night.

Armstrong's body was found in the 14300 block of Mulholland Drive after 8 p.m.. According to our sister blog L.A. Now, a source familiar with the case told The Times that no foul play is suspected and that investigators believe Armstrong may have committed suicide. He was 47.

Armstrong, a venture capitalist, was introduced to viewers last year on the Bravo reality series, on which cameras often captured his marriage struggles. Taylor had recently filed for divorce after five years of marriage. The couple have a 5-year-old daughter named Kennedy.

Russell and Taylor were also the subject of a recent $1.5-million lawsuit for breach of contract.

Bravo said 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.”

The second season of "RHOBH" returns Sept. 5.

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Photo: Russell Armstrong, left, with Taylor. Credit: Associated Press

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