It’s official: The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills will premiere on schedule, with re-edited episodes. Bravo is also adding suicide prevention announcements to run during the program. The footage producers shot with the cast members addressing the suicide will be used for a brief introduction.
Frances Berwick, president of Bravo, issued this statement: “Bravo will proceed with the Monday, Sept. 5 premiere date of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. 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.”
Cast member Russell Armstrong, who killed himself after taping episodes of the program, is not expected to appear in the first few episodes of the show. Ironically, the premiere date — which was originally announced before his death — is during National Suicide Prevention Week (Sept. 4-10). Continued Berwick:
“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.”
Even with the tragedy (or perhaps because of it) there’s something rather surreal about airing anti-suicide PSAs during a reality TV show. One could say that Bravo is being responsible here by including the PSAs, though some media observers will likely contend the network is only trying to offset criticism of its plan to go forward with the show.