Photo Credit: Bravo
The show must (and will) go on. Bravo has officially decided, after much deliberation, to premiere the second season of Real Housewives of Beverly Hills right on schedule on Sept. 5, despite the unexpected tragedy of cast member Russell Armstrong's Aug. 15 suicide. According to Entertainment Weekly, Bravo will run suicide prevention messages during the premiere. And the footage producers shot with cast members addressing the tragedy -- initially rumored to be for a stand-alone "suicide special" -- will be used for a brief introduction to the season premiere.
Speculation had been rampant on how Bravo would handle the situation, with some critics suggesting that the show should be canceled outright. Bravo, however, decided to re-edit the season instead (with Russell potentially being edited out completely), though it remains to be seen how that will pan out since one of the main story lines was to be the disintegrating marriage of Russell and his wife Taylor Armstrong.
Bravo president Frances Berwick is obviously cognizant of the powder keg nature of the situation. "Bravo will proceed with the Monday, Sept. 5 premiere date of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills," Berwick said in a statement. "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."
In an uncanny coincidence, the premiere date falls during National Suicide Prevention Week (Sept. 4-10) -- a fact that hasn't escaped Berwick. "Bravo has partnered with the Entertainment Industries Council, Inc. (EIC) to raise awareness about suicide prevention," he said. "The network will air various PSAs 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."
Surreal as all of this may be, it is perhaps better that Bravo has decided against the "suicide special" idea, which likely would have stirred controversy. Of course, the network's decision to move forward with the new season -- even with the PSAs -- isn't likely to escape criticism. But, like we said before, the show must go on.