This morning, some of the cast members — Adrienne Maloof, Kyle Richardsand Lisa Vanderpumpalongside executive producer Douglas Ross -- visited the Today Show to promote the new season. It was a pretty sobering interview as of course, the topic of Russell was brought up.
When asked how Taylor Armstrongand her 5-year-old daughter Kennedy were coping in light of the tragedy, Adrienne stated she had spoken with Taylor at the wake, adding that “as is to be expected, she was very beside herself, obviously going through such a tragic … and I think her concern is her little girl now.”
The executive producer Douglas then confirmed the reports that Bravo had edited the new season following Russell’s death. “We, along with the network, took a hard look at the show and we decided to do some adjustments where appropriate in light of the circumstances. Our goal has always been to make an honest and accurate story about the ladies and what goes on in their life. We want to be and always are respectful and responsible, and in this case, trying to be very appropriate.”
Russell will not be featured in the first couple of episodes and likely the entire season though scenes with Taylor discussing her marital issues will remain intact. “It is important to know that Taylor’s story is told throughout the season,” he added.
Kyle also defended the show, echoing Bethenny Frankel’s earlier comments which is that Russell and other reality stars sign up to do the shows. “He also signed up for this season one, and came back for season two,” said Kyle. “When we started this show they cast six strong women and they didn’t really know anything about our stories. … We certainly didn’t know the troubles that he had.”
It’s likely that in light of the editing/Bravo working hard to remove scenes with Russell, newbies Brandi Glanville and Dana Wilkey, will probably end up having more of a presence on the show.
And finally, Taylor Armstrong stepped out for the first time without a disguise just days ago. Taylor, 40, was photographed running errands in Beverly Hills on Aug. 31. She was pictured without her wedding ring on. Those photos are below.
Below is a preview clip from tonight’s premiere!
TELL US – STILL EXCITED ABOUT THE NEW SEASON? THOUGHTS ON THE TODAY SHOW INTERVIEW & TONIGHT’S PREMIERE?
CLICK THE CONTINUE READING BUTTON TO SEE THE NEW PHOTOS OF TAYLOR -
Bethenny Frankel is speaking out today after it was revealed the Whole Foods supermarket chain yanked her Skinnygirl cocktails off the shelves for not meeting their standards.
According to reports, Whole Foods removed the Skinnygirl drinkline after discovering it wasn’t as natural as it claimed to be due to the use of a preservative known as sodium benzoate. The Skinnygirl margarita claims it uses “all natural ingredients” and “no preservatives.” Whole Foods stated the following in a statement released: Skinnygirl “had been offered in 16 of Whole Foods Market’s 310 stores. After discovering that it contains a preservative that does not meet our quality standards, we have had to stop selling it.”
In a statement released, Bethenny shrugs off the controversy. “Skinnygirl cocktails were created to solve a problem: to create a line of guilt free cocktails allowing women to drink the indulgent drinks they actually want to drink with as few ingredients as possible,” said Bethenny. “I’m not making wheatgrass here. If I could put an agave plant and some limes on a shelf I would. [The Skinnygirl Margarita] is as close to nature as possible, while still being a shelf stable product.”
Beam, the company who purchased the Skinnygirl drinkline from Bethenny for a reported $100 million, also chimed in. “Skinnygirl Margarita contains very low levels of sodium benzoate (a preservative) so it can stay on the shelves,” said a spokesperson for Beam, adding that the preservative is “very common.”
Bethenny also makes it clear this move by Whole Foods will not make a dent in her rapidly growing Skinnygirl empire. “With all due respect to Whole Foods, we were in a dozen of their stores and have decided not to continue in these stores. They represent an infinitesimal fraction of our business. We are, in fact, the fastest growing spirits brand in the US,” her statement continued. “We were bound to piss someone off and everyone loves to try to tear down a success. This is a non-event. I haven’t lost even a wink of sleep.”
In other Bethenny news, she also spoke out on the recent suicide of RHOBH’s Russell Armstrong. In typical Bethenny fashion, she was very blunt in her comments, making it clear she does not feel Bravo is to blame for his death.
“It’s preposterous to blame a TV show for someone’s suicide,” she told USA Today. “When the show started filming, I’d heard he wasn’t so kind to his wife. But I know nothing about them.”
Bethenny goes on to make a valid point when she adds that people who sign on to do reality shows typically know what comes along with it. “People sign very lengthy documents and they know what they’re getting into. Life is stressful. It’s unfair to blame a TV show for something personal,” she added. “I believe that. I really do. If I go through something horrendous, there’s no discussion that Bravo had anything to do with that.”
TELL US – THOUGHTS ON THE LATEST? DO YOU AGREE WITH BETHENNY’S COMMENTS ABOUT REALITY TV NOT BEING TO BLAME FOR THE SUICIDE?
Sources reveal the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star is worried about her future while struggling to make ends meet. “Taylor is desperately trying to figure out how she is going to live and support her daughter,” a source tells RadarOnline. “She is struggling to make money right now.”
The source adds, “She had plans to write a book before Russell committed suicide, but now she doesn’t know what she is going to do.”
We can confirm that Taylor was indeed planning to write a book. In fact, we were planning to post that story the same day Russell’s suicide made headlines. After a fan tweeted to her that they would love to read her biography on August 13, Taylor tweeted back: “Writing my story w a self help book right now! RT.” She hasn’t updated her twitter page since August 15.
As it’s been widely reported, the Armstrongs were having financial difficulties despite their portrayal on the Bravo hit show as being wealthy. “Taylor is scrambling to find a way to earn a living, but she isn’t sure how she’s going to make end meet,” the source added. “Taylor’s salary from the Bravo reality show was not as lucrative as they wanted people to think. Everything is currently on hold.”
Meanwhile, the National Enquirer is reporting this week that Taylor might have had a fling with another housewife. That housewife in question is none other that RHOC extra Fernanda Rocha. The Enquirer states that just days before Russell’s passing, Taylor and Fernanda were “dirty dancing and kissing passionately at a Newport Beach fashion show.”
Taylor’s rep however denies the story to the Rumor Fix blog, calling it “ridiculous.”
RadarOnline is also reporting that Russell might have had a life insurance policy after all, but the beneficiary isn’t Taylor but rather his first son Aiden Armstrong from his first marriage to Barbara Fredrickson.
“Aiden’s mom, is trying to locate the documentation about Russell’s life insurance policy. Barbara believes that there was a policy that named her son as the sole beneficiary at the time of Russell’s suicide,” reveals a source. And despite the fact that Russell’s death was a suicide, the insurance would still be valid as long as it was taken out two years before the date of the suicide, and the premiums were paid and up to date.
Since the tragic suicide of her estranged husband Russell Armstrong, Taylor, 40,hasmanaged to stay out of the spotlight while mourning her loss. A source close to her however indicates she’s being sought out by the media for the first interview.
The source tells RadarOnline that while Taylor is more than willing to sit down and tell-all, she’s only willing to do that when the time is right, and more importantly, she wants to do the interview with someone she can trust.
“Taylor would likely feel the most comfortable with Barbara Walters,” the source says. “Taylor expects to be asked the tough questions, and will answer them… The interview will most likely happen in the next month or so, and not sooner. Taylor needs a bit more time before she is ready to talk about the suicide.”
UsWeekly reported days ago that Taylor’s rep was shopping her first interview around for $100,000. But to my knowledge Barbara Walters doesn’t do paid interviews so it will be interesting to see how this all works out.
Meanwhile, Bravo announced today that the second season of the RHOBH will premiere on Sep. 5 as scheduled. In a statement released to the press, the network states a quick special featuring interviews with some of the BH housewives will air right before the season premiere episode.
“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,” Frances Berwick, the President of Bravo said in a statement before adding that the network plans to air several anti-suicide PSAs throughout the show.
The statement continues, “Bravo has partnered with the Entertainment Industries Council, Inc. (EIC) to raise awareness about suicide prevention. The network will air various PSA’s during the The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. We will also provide additional information and resources on Bravotv.com, including the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Our thoughts continue to be with the Armstrong family during this difficult time.”
And finally, RadarOnline is reporting this morning that Taylor is considering going to the FBI after a business associate of Russell’s, Alan Schram, also committed suicide 24 hours after Russell’s body was discovered.
Taylor is reportedly puzzled and wants to talk to the FBI to determine if there was a criminal motivation for the suicides. TMZ reported days ago that Russell and Alan were both members of an exclusive club called Tiger 21 — a group of investors who critiqued each other’s financial portfolios. The two guys also became friends.
“Taylor is leaning towards turning over some information that might be of interest to the FBI, which could shed some light as to why both men killed themselves,” reveals a source close to Taylor. “Taylor’s instincts are absolutely telling her that something much more was going on with these two men, than anyone knows about.”
The source adds, “Russell was a very secretive person. Taylor was unaware that he had stopped taking his anti-depressant medications in the two weeks prior to his suicide, even though he swore to her he was taking them.”
Taylor is now reportedly sorting through Russell’s things and paperwork, and putting aside items that she thinks are out of the norm to possibly turn them over to the FBI.
In the wake of Russell Armstrong’s sad passing, several media outlets are gathering more information about the events that transpired that could possibly explain what he was thinking when he took his own life. E Online has compiled a timeline charting some of Russell’s legal woes, substance abuse issues, and abuse allegations. The entire situation is truly tragic.
October 10, 1995 – Russell’s legal woes begin in the mid 1990′s. On October 10, 1995, he is charged with felony tax evasion and is sentenced to five years probation and 150 hours of community service. Two years later, in December of 1997, he finds himself in trouble with the law again. After being charged with misdemeanor spousal battery after a fight with first wife Barbara, Russell must attend mandatory therapy and bi-weekly AA meetings while awaiting trial.
March of 1998 – After Barbara shows up at Russell’s house, the couple gets into another altercation in March of 1998. Russell pleads no contest to a charge of misdemeanor battery and is sentenced to three days in jail. He receives three years probation and must complete 50 hours of community service. Additionally, Russell must spend at least a year being counseled for anger management, attend 50 Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, and donate $1000 to a local women’s shelter.
August of 2004 – Barbara seeks a temporary restraining order for the couple’s then six-year-old son Aiden and files for divorce, citing, “His physical abuse of me was one of the major reasons that we separated only months after Aiden was born.” Included in the TRO filing was a sworn statement from Claudia Haro, Russell’s ex-girlfriend, who alleged that she saw Russell slap his son. She also claimed to be the victim of Russell’s abuse. In a sworn declaration from Russell, he claimed that Child Services had investigated the allegations and could not find any evidence of “inappropriate conduct.”
October 16, 2005 – Russell files for Chapter 7 bankruptcy and marries Taylor Armstrong a mere eleven days later. On March 22 of the following year, his bankruptcy is converted to Chapter 11.
July 15, 2011 – just two months after her rep issued a statement denying break-up rumors, Taylor announces that she has filed for divorce. She believes the split will be in the best interest of the couple’s five-year-old daughter Kennedy. Her petition requests primary physical custody and joint legal custody of Kennedy, as well as restoration of her maiden name. Less than two weeks later, on July 29, a $1.5 million dollar lawsuit is filed against the couple, claiming Russell’s company misappropriated funds, which Taylor helped him to spend.
Russell commits suicide on August 15, the day Bravo sends out the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills press release. The release cites Taylor’s “loveless marriage” as her main story line. The following day, Russell’s first wife Barbara speaks out, expressing her disdain for Taylor and basically blaming her for Russell’s actions. She tells an online media source, “I don’t care for her at all. I think she’s the reason for this.”
Meanwhile, the 911 tape of the call that was made moments after Russell’s body was discovered has been released today by TMZ. The call was made by Russell’s friend though Taylor was present during the call. “My friend just hanged himself, do you understand? Come over here and stop asking questions,” stated Russell’s pal.
In the tape, the caller can be heard comforting Taylor. “Come here Taylor, it’s alright. It’s alright, it’s alright.” A sobbing Taylor then says, “I need my psychiatrist.” Even more heartbreaking is the fact that Taylor & Russell’s 5-year old daughter Kennedy was also at the house. At one point the caller says, “Taylor, have your daughter go away please.”
And finally, Los Angeles Times is reporting that Bravo plans to address Russell’s suicide in the form of a special. The network reportedly shot the special on Monday and it included several RHOBH cast members — Lisa Vanderpump, Camille Grammer, Kyle and Kim Richards, and Adrienne Maloof. Taylor apparently was not included in the filming.
There’s no word yet on when Bravo plans to air the special. The report also adds that the new season is still set to premiere next Monday on Sep. 5.
The entire situation is tragic, and my heart goes out to Russell’s children, family, friends and colleagues.
Taylor Armstrong and her now deceased husbandRussell Armstrong grace the latest cover of UsWeekly magazine under the heading “Reality Suicide Dark Secrets Exposed, Destroyed by Their Pursuit of Fame.”
While the mag touches on a lot of issues with the couple, perhaps the most shocking tidbit is the fact that Taylor, Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star, might have tried to capitalize on the tragic death of Russell. UsWeekly reports that Taylor’s rep “tried to shop her story to press outlets for $100,000.” Wow. One can only assume the rep was doing this with Taylor’s consent.
An insider also tells UsWeekly that in the days following Russell’s death, Taylor was asking how much money she would get from his estate. Russell’s attorney has however publicly stated Russell was broke and had no assets at the time of his death.
The mag touches on how the Armstrongs lived beyond their means while pursuing fame. In fact, family and friends of the duo paint a portrait of an ambitious, financially overextended couple desperate to be on TV and to live in the most coveted zip code at all costs.
Russell’s sister Laurie Kelsoe spoke to the mag stating that proud trophy wife Taylor was desperate to be on RHOBH: “It was all she wanted.” A show insider adds that the Oklahoma native, who bragged about her frequent cosmetic procedures and threw her daughter a $60,000 birthday party last season, “had a need to prove she was worthy.”
However it wasn’t just Taylor, whose opening credits for season 2 was intended to be “I fought too hard for this zip code to go home now,” who wanted fame. Russell was also on board for the ride. “He thought it was a good way for them to make money,” adds the source. This falls in line with a comment Russell made in one of his last interviews in which he called Bravo “bastards” while stating publicity from the show was good for his businesses.
And in other to get on the show, Taylor and Russell exaggerated their wealth. “Bravo cast them because they claimed they owned their house and had a real estate portfolio and major businesses. None of it was true,” says a source. The Armstrongs apparently pretended to own their modest $9,000-a-month rental house in L.A.’s Bel Air Crest neighborhood.
Once she joined the show, Taylor tried to keep up with the Joneses. “She was jealous of the way the other women on the show were living,” says a Taylor source. Laurie goes on to add that Taylor racked up a $90,000 American Express bill in July alone. “Russell was spending more than he made,” says his lawyer Ronald Richards. “He maxed out his credit cards.”
Russell’s grieving business partner John Indelicato however brings up a good point in the article when he wonders why Russell ever sought the spotlight: “If you have skeletons and don’t want them out there, you don’t go on a reality show.” Very valid point.
While it appears there were no takers for the $100,000 interview Taylor’s rep was shopping around, the NY Post is reporting today that Taylor is in talks with Bravo about doing an hour long sit-down interview.
“Bravo wants to do a sit-down, one-hour special with [Bravo exec VP and host] Andy Cohen,” said a source. Another source added, “They’ve been discussing options for a week, but no programming has been formalized.”
And while a Bravo rep tried to deny the report by stating, “It’s not true, there are no plans like that,” it seems they forgot to send a memo to Taylor’s rep who confirmed there had been talks. “There is dialogue with Bravo, but no decisions have been made. Anything would be conjecture,” said Taylor’s rep.
The Post used the words “negotiating for an interview” so it would appear there is money involved. Taylor’s rep however makes it clear her client is still grieving over her loss. The rep states Taylor is “still devastated” and hasn’t personally engaged in any talks.
And finally, the current issue of the National Enquirer posted some older photos of Taylor and Russell together including photos of Russell’s sons from his previous relationships. Those photos are below. You can read more about the couple in the current issues of UsWeekly and the National Enquirer. Photo credit: WENN.
TELL US – THOUGHTS ON THE LATEST?
CLICK THE CONTINUE READING BUTTON TO SEE THE PHOTOS -
Russell and Taylor Amrstrong with Prince Charles in 2007
Russell Armstrong’s sons from previous relationships alongside Taylor and daughter Kennedy at a family Christmas outing.
Taylor told the story of Russell’s proposal, and how he had one of his son’s present her the engagement ring so she knew she was accepted by his children. She also discussed the cross Russell always wore which was engraved with his children’s initials. He added Taylor’s initials to the cross as well, hoping she would help him keep his children close. “I will keep that promise,” Taylor said in her speech.
Neither Russell’s two sons from a previous relationship or Kennedy, his daughter with Taylor, were in attendance. Radaronline reports that Taylor thought her daughter would be too young to understand what was happening.
An insider reveals, “Taylor doesn’t think it’s in Kennedy’s best interests to go to the memorial. It’s very hard to grasp as a 5-year-old, and given the way in which Russell died, well, Taylor doesn’t want Kennedy to accidentally overhear someone talking about Russell’s suicide. Taylor is protecting Kennedy, period. This little girl has been through enough with her parent’s divorce, and now having to deal with her dad’s death.”
Russell’s family was absent from yesterday’s funeral, which was not filmed by Bravo. A second service is planned in his native Texas. Russell’s body was cremated, and his ashes were divided between Taylor and his parents.
While her daughter was absent, Taylor had the support of her fellow Beverly Hills cast mates. UsWeekly reportsLisa Vanderpump, Adrienne Maloof-Nassif and husband Dr. Paul Nassif,Kyle and Kim Richards, as well as New York Housewife Ramona Singer. Even though some of her relationships with the ladies were rocky, she decided to invite all of them to the memorial service.
A source claims, “A lot of thought and consideration went into Taylor’s decision to invite the entire cast. In the end, Taylor didn’t want to exclude anyone, and even though she doesn’t get along with all of them, Taylor wanted them there. The girls have been very supportive to her throughout this entire tragedy. Taylor needs her friends around her more than ever.”
Photos are below of the RHOBH cast attending the funeral.
Meanwhile RadarOnline is now reporting today that Taylor is telling her close friends Bravo is not to blame for Russell’s death and that she wants the network to go ahead with its scheduled Sep. 5 premiere.
A source close to Taylor states that Taylor feels “Russell’s suicide wasn’t caused by the show or Bravo. Russell just simply cracked over ongoing legal and financial issues. The show bears no responsibility for his death, neither does the network.” The source continues, “In fact, Bravo has been extremely supportive of Taylor during this tragedy.”
And despite a report that stated Bravo had decided to postpone the premiere, the source states the network will likely go ahead with the scheduled premiere. “It looks like the show will indeed premiere on September 5. Editing is still being done on the show. Russell is either going to be edited down, or completely out of the show. However, Bravo and the show won’t be ignoring the Russell’s suicide. They simply can’t, to do so, would be disrespectful to the situation and what Taylor is going through. It will be addressed in a manner that is dignified and appropriate,” the source adds.
Photo credit: WENN
TELL US – THOUGHTS ON THE LATEST & TAYLOR’S REPORTED COMMENTS? SHOULD BRAVO GO AHEAD WITH THE PREMIERE? SHOULD RUSSELL’S SUICIDE BE ADDRESSED?
CLICK THE CONTINUE READING BUTTON TO SEE PHOTOS OF THE HOUSEWIVES AT THE FUNERAL -
In the interview with TheFix.com, we get a better picture of what Russell’s mindset might have been weeks before he took his own life. According to The Fix, a blog about addiction and recovery, Russell, 47, had longtime interest in addiction and recovery, brought on by his father’s alcoholism and his sister’s crystal meth addiction.
Russell, a venture capitalist, told The Fix he and Taylor Armstronghad recently invested in a number of rehabs, and were seeking to build a “rehab empire.” When talking about Bravo, he seemed conflicted — on one hand calling them “bastards” while also stating the “publicity” from the show has been good for his businesses. Excerpts from Russell’s interview below -
Russell On Bravo -
“The Russell you see on T.V. has nothing to do with my real personality. He’s just astock character created by Bravo’s evil overlords. That’s not me you see up there. It’s just a character I play on TV.”
• Everything you see on that show is bullshit. Those Bravo bastards take every little argument out of context and magnify it for the cameras. They think that tension drives ratings, and of course they’re right.”
• “At first I was a little annoyed about all the bullshit, but then I realized it’s not so bad to be a celebrity. The thing is, all the publicity has been great for my business.”
And over the weekend, Russell’s sister Laurie Kelsoe, a 45-year-old mother of two, broke her silence to defend her brother against mounting accusations of violence and a secret gay past. In the shocking interview, Laurie completely slams Taylor, calling her a “sticky-fingered social climber,” as well as “a liar and a thief.” Excerpts from Laurie’s interview below -
Laurie On Her Sister-in-law Taylor -
• Taylor, an Oklahoma cheerleader whose original name was Shana Hughes, later changed her name to Taylor Ford, and claimed to be a member of the Ford family. “But we had a friend who knew all the Fords and they didn’t know anything about her,” said Laurie. “We knew she was a phony from the beginning, but Russell wouldn’t hear of it.”
• “Taylor is a liar and a thief,” Laurie continued, “Her lifetime ambition was to become a Housewife, and she got what she wanted. You know, she was pregnant when they got married, and I don’t think that was an accident. She wanted a man, she wanted tons of money and she wanted to be in the limelight. She’s just a gold-digger who reinvented herself and dragged my brother down in the process.”
• Laurie claims that Russell had reluctantly agreed to appear on the show to satisfy his wife’s social ambitions. “He spent all his savings to maintain Taylor’s illusion that they were wealthier than they were,” she said, “He did anything to make sure she was happy, but nothing was ever enough.”
• Horrified by the media’s allegations about him, she’s eager to set the record straight. “My brother is not gay. He’s not into S &M. His biggest mistake was falling in love with Taylor, which is a form of masochism I guess.”
• On the $65,000 party that Taylor threw for her five-year old Kennedy: “It was a complete embarrassment to everyone in the family. It was a revolting use of money that could have gone to pay for the college of Russell’s two other children.”
Laurie On Bravo -
• Laurie also alleges that Bravo execs, unhappy with early footage of the new season, told Taylor she would be fired if she didn’t amp up the drama. “Well, they got what they wanted,” said Laurie. “Russell only did this to please his wife. Bravo never told him, ‘We are going to torment you, destroy your marriage, empty your life and rip you apart, now will you please sign on the dotted line?’”
• The Armstrong family is now reportedly planning to sue Bravo for more than $50 million for its alleged culpability in Russell’s death. “I hold Bravo absolutely responsible for Russell’s death,” says Laurie. “When the show first started, he thought these people were his friends, but they ended up stabbing him in the back.”
Laurie went on to deny the rumors that came out last week alleging Russell feared a tell-all book would reveal his secrets. “He is not a homosexual. He’s not a wife beater. He’s not a crook. He was a decent and loving guy,” she said. “All these news stories mention that he went into bankruptcy but they don’t mention that he paid back every dime he ever owed. They’re just slandering my brother.” Laurie also admits that Russell suffered from depression.
And finally, following allegations by Taylor that Russell was physically abusive to her, Entertainment Tonight stated Monday night that it had viewed “graphic” images of Taylor following one of the alleged abuse incidents.
“I’ve seen shocking photos of Taylor with a deeply bruised right eye and a terrible trauma that stretched from here (the mouth) to here (the eye socket),” host Chris Jacobs said. “We are not ready to show them to you just yet, but I can tell you that it looks as though she was hit in the eye with tremendous force.” As of the moment, it is unclear whether or not ET plans to show the images.
Photo credit: WENN
TELL US – THOUGHTS ON RUSSELL’S COMMENTS ABOUT BRAVO AND LAURIE’S COMMENTS ABOUT TAYLOR? SHOULD ET RELEASE TAYLOR’S IMAGES?