“Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” talk about suicide and series return on “Today Show”

By Barb Oates

Despite the tragic suicide of Real Housewives of Beverly Hills cast member Russell Armstrong just three weeks ago, the series will debut its new season tonight on Bravo at 9pm ET, beginning with a special sit down with cast members.

The 47-year-old hanged himself at the friend’s house he was staying with after separating from his wife Taylor. Taylor went looking for Russell after he failed to return phone calls or text messages and found him dead on Aug. 15.

Cast members Kyle Richards, Lisa Vanderpump and Adrenne Maloof, along with the series’ executive producer, appeared on the Today show this morning to discuss the series return and Taylor’s current state.

“We’ve spent a couple of days with her this week, and she’s just trying to digest everything. …Her priority is her little girl,” said Vanderpump.

Richards said Russell’s suicide came as a complete shock to everyone. “I always saw him as being reserved and quiet, and I knew that they had their issues, but no one could have ever anticipated something like this.”

Executive producer Douglas Ross shared, “When we heard about the tragedy, of course, our hearts went out to Taylor and all of our thoughts to support her, but we along with the network, took a hard look at the show and looked at it very thoroughly. We decided to make 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 lives, and we always are respectful and responsible, and in this case we are trying to be appropriate.”

Ross said the first few episodes of the new seasons have been completed and edited and will not be featuring Russell.