Breaking News: Bravo plans to air a one-hour special on the death of Russell Armstrong. What do you think? Is this Bravo's attempt to honor Russell and the family he left behind, or just another attempt to cash in?
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by Mickey McKean
In regards to the suicide of Russell Armstrong, the real life tragedy of the RHOBH a reality TV show, Matt Lauer asked, "Do you think this a case where people just don't fully understand how their lives will change once they allow cameras in?"
ShowBiz Tonight pointed out that Russell's death comes in the exact same week that we saw two other big reality show events. On Monday TLC officially canceled Kate Plus 8, the reality show some say helped rip apart Jon and Kate Gosselin's marriage, and on Saturday Kim Kardashian married Kris Humphries, a wedding and marriage that will become a big part of Kim's reality show Keeping Up With The Kardashians.
Is the Armstrong tragedy the latest example of another family destroyed by reality show fame? Should this be a warning to Kris and Kim as they prepare to allow cameras in their upcoming marriage?
Showbiz Tonight said they obtained a copy of the new season of RHOBH and they confirm that once again the Armstrong's crumbling marriage was front and center.
Former reality star Jon Gosselin of Jon and Kate Plus 8, Nick Lachey of Newlyweds, and Hulk Hogan of Hogan Knows Best all have something in common with Russell Armstrong; they all have placed some of the blame for their family troubles on their time in the reality show spotlight.
Dr. Lillian Glass (one of the many interviewees in Polly's book) said, "Reality stars are not prepared for what goes on ... I would tell Kim and Kris to really get to know each other and to communicate off air before they communicate on air, to not do things just to make good TV because it will have a lasting effect on them and it could have bad repercussions for their marriage."
Showbiz Tonight said, "It may be a stretch to say that reality shows lead to suicide as some think happen in the Armstrong case, but the trail of destroyed reality marriages and families is too long to ignore. Still, for many, the allure of reality show fame is too strong to resist."
Glass said, "It really makes you stop and think ... wow, is it worth it? In many cases it is not."
Showbiz Tonight then interviewed Russell's attorney:
ST: There are reports that are claiming that it is not just reality TV fame that led to Russell's death, is it unfair to blame the show?
Atty: I'm 100% convinced that Housewives created Armstrong's depression.
ST: How much financial pressure do you think came because of the show itself?
Atty: The show caused a lot of financial pressure because the show was sort of the baby of Taylor and anything that Russell would do to effect the show's success would be negative in their marriage so Russell tried his best to keep this fictitious lifestyle going by overspending by a large degree.
ST: Do you believe that Russell was worried about how he was going to be portrayed in the show this season?
Atty: He was absolutely terrified about how he was going to be portrayed. especially on the issues of domestic abuse and how it would effect him as a dad and on his business. and he was doing his best to make sure none of the other housewives would just casually defame him, to only stick to the facts that people had personal knowledge of
ST: Do you think the best thing for Bravo to do is to cancel this season?
Atty: Bravo needs to do what they want to do, but I think it would be very bad form to have this whole fiasco and fake crisis regarding Russell's marriage and whether they are going to reconcile when the man is dead. I think they should do something other than go forward as is.
ShowBiz Tonight then interviewed Omarosa on the dangers of reality TV:
ST: What drove Russell Armstrong to commit suicide? Some people are pointing their finger squarely at the undeniable 24/7 pressure of reality TV fame. Obviously there are some stars who have been through quite a bit, rehab, jail, divorce, and now we are talking about Russell's death. Do you think that the pressure of living life in front of the cameras can be a trigger, if not the cause of, these troubles?
O: Absolutely. If you don't have a good sense of who you are and what you are about and you go on these shows you can either crumble under the pressure or you will thrive, and we can see that Russell crumbled. When I was on the first season of The Apprentice we actually had a show psychologist who was on set every single day due to the pressure of being in the boardroom and being filmed 24 hours a day was too much for many of the 16 contestants. I now wonder if Bravo will now have a show psychologist to help the different people on the show to deal with the pressures.
ST: What helped you survive the pressures of reality TV?
O: I have a wonderful family to keep me grounded ... but the true danger of reality TV is that you are no longer anonymous, when you go to the grocery store people know who you are. That means that if you are on The Biggest Loser and you go through the drive thru for a big burger people are going to say hey here is a guy that is supposed to losing weight and now he is eating a quarter pounder. If you have a mental break down, everyone will witness it and people will talk about it.
ST: Let's face it, Omarosa, people said some unkind things about you, you were called the woman America loves to hate, of course you spun it into a franchise including your two books. There are reports that Russell may have been overwhelmed trying to keep up with the Beverly Hills persona ... is there a lot of pressure to keep up the persona on and off camera because of what viewers expect?
O: There is an incredible amount of pressure because people expect you are on television all of a sudden you have tons and tons of money and tons and tons of wealth and that is just not the reality for reality show contestants. Reality TV may be getting a bum rap here ... Russell had a lot of pressures before this show. What the reality television program does is magnify any problems that you had prior to going on and you have to live that in front of an audience and you get torn down on the blogs every single day.
ST: What do you think Bravo should do with the new season of RHOBH?
O: I would not be surprised if Bravo decides to continue with the season and keep Russell's parts in because this is reality television and this is a real situation.
According to TMZ, Russell Armstrong's business partner committed suicide the day after Russell's suicide by shooting himself in his car on Mulholland Drive. It is unknown what the business partner's finances were at the time of his death.