Real Housewives super-fan Anderson Cooper welcomed several Beverly Hills cast members to his talk show Anderson this afternoon. Kyle Richards, Adrienne Maloof, Lisa Vanderpump, and their husbands discussed the August suicide of castmate Taylor Armstrong’s husband Russell at length. They discussed their own relationships with Russell, gave an update on Taylor and her five-year-old daughter Kennedy, and addressed Bravo’s responsibility for his death.
Cooper opened the show with a jarring package that featured the 911 tape (released on Aug. 30) from the moments just after Taylor and a friend, with Kennedy in tow, discovered Russell’s body. Vanderpump explained that the release of the tape was traumatic for Taylor and deemed it “gratuitous.” With the release of the tape and the suicide of one of Russell’s business associates just one day after Russell’s death, Richards said the weeks since Russell’s death have been “a hard time.” She confirmed that Taylor and Kennedy stayed with her family briefly at the end of August. Even today, she said, “it’s a really painful, difficult situation. Her main concern right now is looking after Kennedy.” As for the little girl, Richards explained that she “knows her father has passed away, but she doesn’t know how.”
The Housewives and their husbands were admittedly taken aback by the suicide. “We had heard some things [about Russell’s financial difficulties], yes,” said Richards, “But obviously we didn’t know what a dark place he was in. No one anticipated something like this. We were all completely shocked, including Taylor.”
They blamed that in part on Russell’s guarded personality. “He was difficult to get to know,” said Maloof. “He always had a wall up, very introverted, so I think all of us had a difficult time connecting with him.” Contrary to reports of his private discussions, Maloof’s husband Paul Nassif said Russell was always publicly upbeat about his business and insisted the show was helping him.
As in the roundtable discussion segment that preceded the season opener, Richards took the hardest line on Russell’s decision. “This man obviously had issues to begin with that he brought to the table that nobody was aware of,” she said. “He signed up for season 1, and he came back for season 2…. I think if you have secrets and skeletons, you shouldn’t be on a reality show.”
As for the fate of the show, Vanderpump held firm that airing it as scheduled “was Bravo’s decision.” She defended this choice and refused to pin any responsibility on the network or the show for Russell’s death. “Having been on the show, in this journey with these women, for the last two years, I don’t really understand [the criticism] because they’ve just followed our lives — births and marriages and sometimes deaths. It’s our reality, it is tragic.”
So, PopWatchers, did you catch the interview? How did you think Cooper handled the interview? Do you agree with the Housewives’ assessment of Russell? Do you think Kyle is harsh in her judgment of Russell or spot-on? Are you still watching the show this season, or have the last month’s events put you off?