(Reuters) – The mother of Russell Armstrong said her son feared being “crucified” in the upcoming season of reality show “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills“.
Three days after the suicide of Armstrong, the estranged husband of cast member Taylor Armstrong, producers were still pondering whether to go ahead with the second season amid claims that the pressure of being on the show played a role in the tragedy.
Armstrong’s mother, John Ann Hotchkiss, told cable channel HLN in an interview on Wednesday she believed that being on the drama-filled reality show had slowly destroyed her son’s six-year marriage to Taylor.
“Before the new season even started, before he took his life, he said, ‘Mom, they’re just going to crucify me this season.’ He said, ‘I don’t know what to do. I’ll never survive it’. I thought he meant business or something,” Hotchkiss said.
His crumbling marriage was expected to be a key theme in the second season due to start on September 5. Taylor Armstrong filed for divorce in July. The 47 year-old venture capitalist was also deeply in debt and the subject of a $1.5 million breach of contract lawsuit, according to his lawyer.
Coroners officials said he hanged himself with an electrical cord at a house in the Beverly Hills area on Monday.
Russell Armstrong had come across as cold and anti-social in the first season and was criticized by the five other women on the show. His lawyer Ronald Richard said this week that the Armstrongs were living way beyond their means.
In the first season, Taylor Kennedy threw a lavish $60,000 party for the fourth birthday of the couple’s daughter Kennedy.
Armstrong’s stepmother Gladys Armstrong told ABC’s “Good Morning America” show on Thursday that the “Real Housewives” show “ruined his life.”
“Deep in my heart I know that. Russell was not what he was made out to be,” Armstrong said in the interview.
Cable channel Bravo has declined to discuss the various comments by friends and relatives of Armstrong.
Bravo executive Andy Cohen said in a blog on Wednesday that producers were still trying to process news of the suicide and “looking at how to proceed with the series”.
Armstrong’s nephew Austin Kelsoe told “Good Morning America” on Thursday that he thought the show should go on, but he added; “Russell should be edited out in respect for Taylor and the family.”
(Reporting by Jill Serjeant; Editing by Bob Tourtellotte)