The late Russell Armstrong appeared on The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills Monday for the first time since taking his own life Aug. 15 -- shortly after the reality series completed filming its second season and his wife Taylor Armstrong filed for divorce.
Though Bravo executives claimed to have re-edited the show in the wake of Armstrong's death, the network never promised Russell would be edited out of the show completely.
Russell Armstrong appears in a painfully awkward dinner scene with his then-wife Taylor Armstrong, fellow housewife Kyle Richards and her husband Mario. Over an elegant meal at the Armstrongs' home, Russell and Taylor address the media speculation about their marriage.
So did you read the big story today?' Russell asks his guests. We officially separated today.
On cue, Taylor pulls out a copy of Us Weekly with the story about her separation.
In an apparent attempt to lighten the mood, Kyle tries to change the subject. At least it's a cute picture, Taylor.
But Russell isn't content to let the subject go.
I don't meant to falsely accuse anybody but...a certain person that we all know told me that Lisa [Vanderpump] is very good friends with the editor of Us magazine, Russell says. Have you heard this...is this true?
She's been friends with her for years, Kyle concedes. But when asked if she thought the editor would have let Lisa know the story was to run, Kyle says I don't think so.
In the confessional, Kyle is firmer. I do not believe that Lisa had anything to do with this article. I mean, it's not like there's one person who knows about Taylor and Russell's marriage. Everybody in town knows...She and Russell are having problems. This is the gossip around town.
Back at the dinner table, Russell keeps fishing.
It's very unusual that I received a phone call the day of the article and they link it to Lisa...and again, I'm not accusing Lisa, but it was just a very strange thing that happened today.
I met with one of my litigators today and he said look, we'll just serve them with a lawsuit and they'll happily tell who their source is to make the lawsuit go away, Russell says.
There are no reports that the Armstrongs went forward with a lawsuit against Us Weekly.
In May, Us Weekly published an exclusive story claiming that Taylor and Russell Armstrong had separated due to huge marital problems related to finances, according to an anonymous insider.
Cedric Martinez, who appeared on Season One of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills as an extended guest at Lisa Vanderpump's sprawling mansion, told RealityTea.com that his former friend (and meal ticket) is absolutely behind the Us Weekly story, insisting that Lisa has the magazine on speed dial.
In July, Us Weekly reported that Taylor had filed for divorce. A month later, Russell Armstrong took his own life.
In September, Bravo announced that the second season of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills would air on schedule, with some portions re-edited in response to Armstrong's suicide.
In the first few episodes that we've completed editing, Russell is not included in those episodes, executive producer Douglas Ross said on Today.
But it is important to note that Taylor's story is told throughout the season, Ross added.
Armstrong's mother, John Ann Hotchkiss, believes that her son's participation in The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills contributed to his eventual suicide.
I began to notice things starting to fray when the television [inaudible] came into being...The program itself just really brought him down, Hotchkiss told HLN in August, referring to the on-camera criticism of her son by Taylor's fellow cast members. By the end, he was just so distraught by it.
Hotchkiss said Russell told her, 'Mom, they're just going to crucify me this season... I don't know what to do. I'll never survive it.'
[Video source: Business Insider]