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Missing American in Aruba
Aired August 17, 2011 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DR. DREW PINSKY, HOST: Here we go.
Blood and money. Breaking news from Aruba. Will new evidence solve the mystery of a missing American beauty?
And did a television program drive one of its stars to death?
Tonight, reality TV is a suspect, but deep dark secrets may have been the ultimate cause.
So let`s go figure this out on this live edition of DR. DREW.
And tonight, breaking news in the case of Robyn Gardner, the missing American in Aruba. Watch this and then we`ll talk about it.
NANCY GRACE, HOST, "NANCY GRACE": No sign of American tourist Robyn Gardner. The suspect tonight, Gary Giordano, now being held in an Aruban jail.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What motivation would Gary Giordano have at all?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Aruban authorities investigating a $1.5 million insurance policy that Gary Giordano bought before traveling to Aruba with Robyn Gardner.
MIKE BROOKS, LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: I would never take out any insurance for accidental death. I mean, is this something that everybody does? Not that I know of.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s also in this area that they say they found blood on a stone. Would it be belong to either Gary Giordano or Robyn Gardner?
And these are the kind of questions that are haunting investigators. That`s what they want to know.
PINSKY: Now, the main suspect, traveling companion Gary Giordano -- there he is -- he apparently took out a travel insurance policy on Gardner, according to the authorities on the island. Some reports say it`s worth $1.5 million.
Now, could this be a motive for murder? In addition to that evidence, has blood been found at the beach where they were last seen?
Joining me tonight, Christina Jones, who is a friend and former roommate of Robyn Gardner`s. Also, I have Bob Flynn, a former attorney for Gary Giordano. And CNN correspondent Martin Savidge, in Aruba, who has been covering this case since the story broke.
Martin, can you bring us up to date on this insurance policy? Supposedly, Giordano told authorities that he had taken out an insurance policy on both himself and Gardner.
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right. And this is what`s very interesting, is that it was Gary Giordano who told authorities about it. It wasn`t that they had to uncover it in some way.
It was during the very early days of his interrogation, when he was talking to authorities, and they asked him about, did you take out any insurance, anything like that? It`s an obvious line of questioning when you want to find motive.
And he said, yes, he did. He took it out. He took it out for Robyn Gardner. He took it out for himself.
And authorities are describing it, though, as travelers insurance. That would indicate an insurance that you were worried about maybe a health malady and needed to be flown off the island.
But it also could include an accidental death clause. And that`s what`s being investigated right now.
How much? Authorities will not say. Who is the benefactor? Authorities would not say.
But those that are close to the investigation we`ve spoken said that they have heard it could be up to $1 million and above, and that also the benefactor is not Gary Giordano, but in fact it was listed as Robyn Gardner`s mother. That`s where it stands right now.
The FBI is involved. They actually brought copies of the insurance documents to the island. And Aruban authorities continue to go over them.
PINSKY: Martin, also, I`m hearing that there were reports of blood found behind the restaurant where they last ate, and maybe some blood at the Baby Beach. Can you bring us up to date on these reports?
SAVIDGE: Right. It is actually one section of blood, I guess, is the way to describe it here. And it`s described by those that are again close to the investigation that we have talked to in a couple of ways.
Some say it`s blood on stone. Some say it`s blood on a rock. Others say it`s actually a bloody hand or palm print.
What they do not know at this particular point -- and again, when I pushed prosecutors, they will say only this -- it`s interesting, but they won`t confirm or they won`t deny the blood factor. It`s a critical part of the investigation if it`s true, if it`s human.
We should point out that area, a lot of people go fishing. You can get blood that way. There is also a lot of animals in that area. So they don`t necessarily know it`s human. They are testing it.
If they find it`s human, if they could tie it to either Robyn Gardner or Gary Giordano, that would be huge, especially Robyn, because, of course, the story he tells is that this was a snorkeling trip and she vanished in the water. You wouldn`t have blood if that was the case. The testing is being done right now.
PINSKY: Very interesting. Thank you, Martin, for that report.
Apparently, according to a former acquaintance of Giordano, he had a bit of a temper. Take a look at this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He was erratic. He was a little violent.
Like, one time I happened to touch his hair by accident, and he like literally, like, yanked my arm really hard, and it was like really scary. And he was, let`s say, quite physically aggressive, inappropriately. Apparently, he has cameras in his house where he videotapes people, and he has cameras all around his home.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY: Bob Flynn, an attorney who represented Gary, I want to go to him next.
Bob, you know, there`s a lot of stuff flying around about Giordano. Does all of this surprise you? Does any of it surprise you? Is this in keeping with the guy you knew?
BOB FLYNN, FMR. ATTORNEY FOR GARY GIORDANO: It does surprise me a great deal, the things that are being discussed. Gary never struck me as a person with a temper.
He was much more careful with everything that he did, especially the last woman that just spoke. He was incredibly sensitive about his hair.
I could see him getting -- having a quick burst of concern if someone was reaching for it. For example, trying to find out if it was a hairpiece or not. He would be concerned about that, I would imagine. But other than that, I never saw anything that indicated he had a streak of violence like this.
PINSKY: Also, the relationship sounds so peculiar to me. He was with Robyn for a year and a half, I have heard some of her friends say. And it was sort of clandestine. The boyfriend didn`t really seem to know about it, or kind of knew about it.
Is that in keeping with Gary? Did he have lots of kinds of associates and friends out there that were not really close friends, but just people he kind of would just travel with? And let me just ask you, on the heels of that, when he traveled, would he just get in the airport and buy travel insurance all the time? Was he that kind of guy, too?
FLYNN: Well, as far as knowing a lot of people, Gary was a very gregarious person. He made friends very, very easily. He had lots and lots of friends around.
On the travel insurance, I don`t -- I never traveled with him. I`m not really sure.
But in keeping with the way Gary was, he was extremely careful in almost everything he did. He planned it out extremely. And that is sort of consistent with someone who would buy insurance, whether it was travel insurance or other kinds of insurance.
PINSKY: And it doesn`t seem that the beneficiary being Robyn`s mother would make the insurance a motive for murder.
FLYNN: I agree. I had a sneaking suspicion when we first heard about this that that policy was sort of a red herring.
PINSKY: Now, Christina, you`re I guess one of the people that has informed me that Gary knew Robyn for a year and a half. Did you ever come in contact with him during that time?
CHRISTINA JONES, ROBYN GARDNER`S ROOMMATE: No. I have just only heard about Gary.
PINSKY: You only heard about him. Is that what you said?
I mean --
PINSKY: Listen. Christina, listen. I`ve talked to some of Robyn`s girlfriends, and they were very vague about who Gary was in her life. Can you help me understand who he was to her?
JONES: Well, of course, because the girlfriends that you have spoken, I know them very clearly and very well. And they did not know Robyn the way I know her.
And she spoke about Gary in passing. I know that he came into her life over a year and a half ago.
I know that he was very emotional. He did have an anger problem. He wasn`t passive.
He was threatening towards her. One minute he was nice, the next minute he wasn`t very nice.
PINSKY: Why was she with this guy? Didn`t she have a -- I know she had a boyfriend. I`ve talked to him.
Do you understand, Christina, why we are all confused? It`s like she was carrying on a clandestine relationship with a guy that was kind of aggressive and violent towards her?
JONES: No. I don`t think it was --
PINSKY: Even if it was a friendship -- Christina, even if it was a friendship, it was still kind of clandestine. Why was she with a guy that mistreated her?
JONES: I think a lot of women are with men that mistreat them, Dr. Drew. I think that she had some issues with Richard.
Richard is a friend of mine, so I`m not throwing him under the bus. She had kind of a roller-coaster relationship with both of them.
And when things weren`t so good with Richard, maybe she would spend more attention to Gary. And Gary was always there ready and waiting, always ready when she was having a weak moment to kind of prey on her. He always sugarcoated things to make her feel better about herself in a down time.
PINSKY: OK. But Christina, you used a very powerful word there. You said he was there to prey upon her. Did you mean that?
JONES: Of course. Yes.
I think that this guy, he finds a female that is going through a rough time. And I don`t think it`s just a matter of -- I truthfully feel that she was going through a low, and he knew about that, and that he offered her to go away, knowing that she would go.
She just lost her job. She`s going through a not-so-great relationship, you know, another hiccup with Richard. And she wanted to go away to rest, to come back, to look for a new job. She is very resilient.
PINSKY: OK. Christina, thank you. We`re going to keep you across the commercial break until the next segment, as well as Bob Flynn.
And I`ll be talking to Martin, too.
When we come back, we`re going to actually do a drive-by of the Baby Beach, so-called, where they went snorkeling.
Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SAVIDGE: As you start to get back here, it certainly is more secluded, and this is not the pristine kind of beautiful beach area that most of the tourists are accustomed to finding. You also wonder how Gary Giordano would know exactly this was here.
PINSKY: Missing for two weeks, Robyn Gardner traveled to Aruba with her friend Gary Giordano. Our reporter on the ground in Aruba, Martin Savidge, drove around the isolated beach where Gardner was last seen. Take a look. You`re going to see all the places where this all went down.
SAVIDGE: We`re approaching here the Rum Reef Bar & Grille. This is the last known place in public that Gary Giordano and Robyn Gardner were seen. It`s where they had a meal, maybe something to drink.
Now, we`ll take you from here and show you the relationship to the Rocky Point, which is where Gary Giordano says they went snorkeling. You go past the front of the building, and now we have to go around it. And I warn you, it`s going to get a bit bumpy here, so just bear with us.
That`s Baby Beach straight ahead. You can see the pretty blue waters, but that is not the area where he says they went snorkeling. Instead, we`re going to continue around the back of the building.
And now you begin to see, all right, maybe there is sort of a beach here. It`s certainly secluded. But it`s not the beautiful, pristine and, as I point out, it`s not the popular tourist spot that many people come to. But this is exactly the place where Gary Giordano says he and Robyn went snorkeling, the very same place where she got into trouble. She got out of the water and she never did.
PINSKY: It seems a little peculiar, right? Would you have gone snorkeling at that beach after dinner and having drinks?
Back with us is Robyn`s former roommate, Christina Jones.
And Christina, I want to thank you. You were really providing some clarity for me about that relationship that I didn`t have before, but I`ve got more questions for you.
Also, attorney Bob Flynn is here. He had represented Mr. Giordano. And CNN reporter Martin Savidge, who took us on that tour we just watched.
Now, Martin, that beach area is very close to the restaurant where Robyn was last seen. There are reports -- this is a new report -- and again, don`t know if this means anything, but I`m obliged to report that there was a condom found in that area as well. Whether this has anything to do with it or not, I don`t know. I guess we all don`t know.
But what is the latest on that theory?
SAVIDGE: Well, you know, this is apparently a condom that was new. Some say out of the wrapper, but not used. What`s significant about that, it was found in the area very close to where they found the blood, and of course all of this is in the area where it is said that Robyn Gardner was last at before she disappeared.
Again, I pressed the prosecutor on that. Their answer was, it`s interesting, but they would not confirm nor deny the condom. They would leave it at that.
What`s very important here is that we know Gary Giordano was forced to give up his DNA. So they have his profile DNA-wise. And we also now know that they have Robyn Gardner`s, because they collected hairbrushes and also collected a toothbrush.
So they will be able to see if there is anything on the condom. It could even be through the finger. Or, could it be something, say, the blood trace now that they have and try to link it to either one of those two people? It could be evidence. It could be nothing.
PINSKY: And, Martin, I`m going to ask you a couple of questions there. We have a little delay here from Aruba, so I`m going to put together two questions so we don`t get that awkward little blip here.
One is, is there any surveillance that you`re aware of? Was there surveillance video or anything people are looking at?
And number two, there were reports that Robyn was perhaps a little intoxicated. Can you tell me about those reports?
SAVIDGE: The reports of intoxication, some of them come from waitress staff that worked at the Marriott hotel where they were staying. However, Gary, in his statement to authorities, the initial statement, also said that she had been drinking, and he mentioned the use of sleeping pills. That was his statement to authorities.
As for surveillance cameras, they have at least six of them in front of that building there. That`s the bar and the dive shop area.
I went and inspected them myself. As far as any behind or beside the building, we did not see one. There`s actually one at the top of the building, but it`s pointed facing forward to the front.
So, again, we don`t think they could see what was going on behind or beside the building. They could definitely watch the couple as they dined, and that`s something authorities admit they have and are reviewing.
PINSKY: Thank you, Martin.
Christina, now I want to go to you.
Again, thank you for sort of clarifying what that relationship was all about. I think you understand why this is kind of confusing to us. I mean, we hear about this boyfriend, and then there`s this guy that is mistreating her.
Would it be safe to say that Gary was sort of her bullpen? She really didn`t have any kind of romantic relationship with him, but he was just somebody supportive that she went to in time of need.
JONES: I think that -- who knows what happened between Gary and Robyn, but Gary and Robyn? I can only tell you that as someone that knows her really well, I live with her, I`m her stylist.
I can speak on her behalf to say that they were definitely friends. It probably could have been more at one time. But as she got to learn about him, I know that things became rocky, and she was kind of second- guessing herself about their friendship.
But somehow that guy always kind of weaseled his way back in there with her, where one minute she wasn`t sure about him, and the next she`d say that, you know, it was OK. You know, it`s OK to get on a plane to go to Aruba, she was going to be fine. She would have never gotten on that plane if she thought she couldn`t handle it.
PINSKY: And, Christina, let me just say, I`m asking you tough questions, but it`s incumbent upon me to say I`m sorry. This is a really sad time for you, and I know this is a close friend of yours.
Yes. I`m sorry. And you`re having to face lots of tough questions and defend your friend, and we`re all just trying to make sense of this. And it`s a terribly, terribly sad story.
And please, our hearts go out to you. And thanks for helping us try to understand this. OK?
Now, Bob Flynn, you had represented Gary at one time. What legal advice would you give Gary now?
FLYNN: In the criminal investigation? I think the best advice that he could get is what he`s already gotten, which is to -- he`s already made statements, he`s already answered all the questions. When he has answered them one time, I wouldn`t answer them over again. Beyond that, I don`t think he is incumbent upon doing anything other than just waiting for the investigation to play itself out.
PINSKY: And Christina, one more back to you. I`ve only got a little bit of time left.
Are you still there?
JONES: Yes. I didn`t leave.
PINSKY: I`m sorry. Well, you seemed upset, and I`m sorry.
But are there things you`d like us to do to honor the memory of your friend, if you believe that she is not alive, which it`s beginning to shape up to look like that?
JONES: You know, I keep having hope that Robyn is going to come back. And today has been a total bummer for me, having all these stories about insurance and putting insurance on her. And then my first question is, where is her body?
And I`m at work all day. And I get reporters coming in, "Oh, we found blood. We found a condom." All these things.
Only Gary knows where Robyn is. And so it`s just like you`ve got to keep pushing for the guy to break.
And I`m not going to give up on my buddy coming back until they find the body. And like, wouldn`t it be awful to give up on someone knowing that they might be -- maybe they are struggling? Like, it`s just not my style.
I`m pretty solid to Robyn, and I`m loyal to her. So nobody deserves to go missing, no matter where they go, if they`re having sex with somebody or not.
PINSKY: Christina, absolutely, our thoughts and prayers are with you. And we`ll keep a positive thought for now. And thank you for joining us. I do appreciate it.
And thank you, Bob.
And thank you to Martin as well.
Coming up next, I have your comments and questions about the reality star`s husband who killed himself.
And later, did a TV show drive him to suicide, or was it something else? We`re going to get into all of that.
And again, of course, up next, your Facebook questions, your Twitter questions, and your phone calls. So please do stay tuned.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KAREEN WYNTER, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT: You`re so vocal when it comes to speaking out about domestic violence and with the allegations. Is that going to be addressed on the show?
TAYLOR ARMSTRONG, "REAL HOUSEWIVES OF BEVERLY HILLS": You have to tune in and see, but a lot of the issues in my marriage are definitely addressed this year, and thankfully, I have five strong women that are standing next to me now, and they`ve got my back.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY: And that was just two weeks ago, when Taylor Armstrong was asked about the personal challenges she was facing in her marriage. Taylor filed for divorce from Russell just a month ago. There were allegations of domestic violence. Russell, however, was found dead Monday in the Mulholland Drive home where he was staying with a friend.
We posted a poll question on our Web site today that asked, "Should `The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills` continue after Russell Armstrong`s suicide?" Here are the results.
Forty-seven percent of you said yes, 40 percent of you said no, and 13 percent that you were unsure. It`s a pretty ambivalent result. I think people are split obviously on this, whether it`s something that should go ahead or shouldn`t.
Now, I`ve got some phone calls.
Deborah, in California, go right ahead.
DEBORAH, CALIFORNIA: Hi, Dr. Drew.
PINSKY: Hi, Deborah.
DEBORAH: I just wanted to make a quick comment.
DEBORAH: I think these reality shows do not cause people to take their own lives. I just think Russell had other problems that were weighing on him, like his divorce, his financial situation. And the show had nothing to do with it.
PINSKY: Well, you`ve got a point there, Deborah. The fact is that when people commit suicide, you can look at underlying conditions like bipolar disorder, depression, as you say, multiple stressors in their life. The question I think we are all raising is, does the reality show bear some responsibility in adding the stressors, or somehow putting things over the top, where what might have been an otherwise mild psychiatric condition led finally to severe depression, say, and finally suicide?
Christine is in Arizona.
What`s on your mind, Christine?
CHRISTINE, ARIZONA: Hi, Dr. Drew.
PINSKY: Hi, Christine.
CHRISTINE: I just wanted to say that when you get a group of people together who feel so badly about themselves that they have to get attention through such a sad way of life, it opens itself up to a lot of problems. The really upsetting part to me is that there`s an entire generation of young people who are growing up thinking that this kind of behavior is totally normal.
PINSKY: You`re right, Christine. Not only the behavior is totally normal, but to the lengths that people will go to be on reality shows.
That`s what we`re going to talk about after the break is, what should people submit themselves to? And at what price and what cost? And what are the ethics of doing so on part of those of us that are in television?
So it`s a very, very challenging issue.
I will tell you, you have another interesting point here, which is that you`re saying sad people, I think you called them. You know, I have actually done research on this, on the people that are in celebrity status, and my research has been very clear -- I actually published this -- that the reality show contestants tend to have the most pathology of narcissism and trauma.
So it`s a group already that has inherent risks and liabilities that maybe we all should be paying attention to.
Here is a Facebook question. It says, "Dr. Drew, have you ever felt the type of pressure on reality shows you`ve worked on that made you think about seeking therapy?"
Absolutely. Absolutely. It is a very stressful environment, and of course I do try and take care of my mental health, and therapy is something I have sought throughout my career when I have needed it.
So those of you -- listen, there should be a low bar to accessing help if you all need it. It`s something that always pays dividends and works. And, of course, in the case of this unfortunate family, you wish that they had participated successfully in more treatment.
Now, next, a reality show suicide has us all in America asking, who is to blame? Could there be deep, dark secrets behind the suicide?
We`re going to ask those questions. Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY (voice-over): Reality TV`s real-life tragedy, divorce, debt, dark secrets, and now, suicide. The coroner`s report confirms "Real Housewives" star, Russell Armstrong hung himself. What drove him to it? Was it his marriage, the show, or something else, something he wanted to hide?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY (on-camera): Tonight, the Los Angeles County coroner confirms the cause of Russell Armstrong`s death was suicide by hanging. Russell and his wife, Taylor, are stars of the reality show "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills."
Here to share some insights into this tragedy are Ronald Richards. He is Russell Armstrong`s attorney. Jeana Keough is a former star of "The Real Housewives of Orange County." Vienna Girardi received the file rose on season 14 of "The Bachelor." And Dylan Howard is with me. He is the senior executive director of Radar Online.
And Gina and Vienna, I`m going to ask you to please bear with me during this first block we`re doing here, because I`ve got a lot of nuanced material to get through, and I want to talk to Dylan and Ronald first about that. Dylan, I`m going to you first. What is the latest news on this story?
DYLAN HOWARD, SR. EXEC. DIRECTOR, RADAR ONLINE: Well, Dr. Drew, the shock of yesterday`s news has been replaced by anger. We spoke to Russell Armstrong`s grieving family in Texas today, and they have indicated that they`re considering filing a lawsuit against the network, Bravo. They`re zeroing in on a comment that Russell made recently citing the fact that a reality program was the cause of the downfall of his marriage.
Now, I can tell you exclusively tonight, Dr. Drew, that the network is bracing itself already for this, indeed. The cast and crew were summoned to a meeting today at the home of Adrianne Maloof, one of the co-stars of "The Real Housewives" franchise.
And in a third development, Dr. Drew, I can also tell you that, seemingly, it appears as though a battle is brewing over his remains with his family making early indications that they want Russell to be returned to his native Texas. While at the same time, Taylor is making plans for a funeral here. And she is said to want it in Beverly Hills.
PINSKY: And Dylan, before I talk to Ronald, I just want to ask you a couple of follow-up questions. I`m hearing lots of rumors, things that there was something problematic or maybe embarrassing on his computer. And there was some book coming out or something with a lot of material that he might be embarrassed by. Can you tell me about those rumors?
HOWARD: Well, I think inevitably with a suicide, people are searching for answers as to why someone would make a decision to end their life. It certainly appears as though he had deep problems associated with his finances, and that said to have contributed to his mental state in recent weeks, in addition to the fact that his wife had filed for divorce.
There`s also the development that came this morning about a supposed tell-all book that was being in the works, that was in the works about the entire "Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" franchise, which was said to include allegations that Russell was bisexual. This coming from a well- placed source, someone close to the show, who was planning on writing this tell-all book.
Of course, I`m sure Ronald will go on record about those allegations. He`s denied them today. But, a deep and dark portrait is emerging of someone who was clearly troubled and had a history of domestic violence against women also.
PINSKY: Ok. I`m going to talk to his attorney about that and give him a chance to -- because I can`t confirm or deny any of this. I`m going to give you a chance to respond to all of this stuff, but there`s another issue here, and I want us all to remember that this is a very sad story. I mean, you know, forget just merely that a relatively young life has cut shorter. There was a young child involved.
My understanding is that his wife was in the home when he was found. I mean, there were really gruesome qualities to this whole thing. I`m also hearing that there were no drugs or alcohol found around him. Though, toxicology is pending, but I`m right that she was there on the time that this was all discovered, is that true?
HOWARD: Yes, indeed. Taylor Armstrong had some concerns about Russell`s well-being. She had attempted to place a series of phone calls to him. When she was unable to reach him, she joined with a friend close to Russell, and they actually discovered his body in that Mulholland Drive Estate. So, not only did she have to deal with the shock and horror at this action, she also discovered the body.
And from what I understand, the body was not in the greatest shape, so much so that according to his family, an open casket has been ruled out at his memorial. Interestingly enough, though, Dr. Drew, you mentioned about the young daughter, Kennedy. She has been told today, as I understand it, that her father has passed away. In addition to that, he leaves behind two other children as well, including a teenaged son, Aidan, from his first marriage to a woman by the name of Barbara Frederickson (ph).
PINSKY: Oh, it`s just so sad. Now, Russell was allegedly in financial trouble, which makes this following clip from "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" quite especially shocking. It`s a birthday for the Armstrong`s four-year-old daughter that reportedly cost $60,000. Remember, he was in financial trouble, and somebody thought it was a good idea to do a $60,000 birthday party. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TAYLOR ARMSTRONG, BRAVO`S "REAL HOUSEWIVES OF BEVERLY HILLS": I`m excited for Kennedy to see how beautiful the setup is and for all of her little friends to arrive and to get to have some fun and celebrate Kennedy turning four.
Hi, baby. Come here. Look at your party.
She was definitely a little overwhelmed.
Come and look at all your flower arrangements and all this pretty stuff that they made for you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY: OK. Now, Ronald, I`m going to go to you in a second, but Ronald just leaned over to me while watching that footage and said, well, maybe it cost $60,000, but this was a TV show. They may have been able to get vendors to do it for far less if not nothing, I supposed. So, we don`t know if it actually cost that family $60,000. But, was there a lot of pressure on them to do things that they wouldn`t otherwise do?
RONALD RICHARDS, RUSSELL ARMSTRONG`S FRIEND & ATTORNEY: Absolutely, because they were in a league with some real multimillionaires and close to billionaires. And, they were not the Kelsey Grammer-type divorcees or family.
PINSKY: Ronald, there`s some nuanced issues here. Now, I want to sort of, from the standpoint of full disclosure of myself, I mean, I have worked on a reality show called "Celebrity Rehab." We have sick people that we are trying to make well, and we make sure there`s huge aftercare, and the patients are taken care of. Was there any sort of provisions for aftercare or follow-up or anything for people that participated?
RICHARDS: Oh, no. The first year -- they don`t even know if the show is going to be successful. So, when they start these things, the participants sometimes go in debt, $100,000 to $200,000 financing their own character into the show. I`ve had a close personal friend on "Million Dollar Listing" that spent a lot of his own money building his character because you don`t know if the show is going to be successful, and they pay them peanuts.
RICHARDS: Yes. That`s a little dirty secret.
PINSKY: They pay to be on a reality show?
RICHARDS: No. They pay for the character. Meaning, they put --
PINSKY: But the participant pays this?
RICHARDS: The participant pays for all the parties, all those scenes. The show doesn`t pay for anything. All the scenes you see in nightclubs, trips --
PINSKY: All to be in a reality show.
PINSKY: Vienna, is it worth it to spend tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars to be on a reality show?
VIENNA GIRARDI, STARRED ON "THE BACHELOR": No when you`re not making -- you know, you go in there being very naive, and I can probably say this about them. You`re naive in what you`re getting yourself into. And I know for me, they tell you up front, you know, you`re not getting paid, but you`re getting a great opportunity.
And pay your bills for the next three months because that`s when you`ll be gone. And you`re sitting here going, where am I going to come up with that money? But if this is what you want to do, then --
PINSKY: So, let me go on with my conversation about my experience during a reality show. When I originally created "Celebrity Rehab," I wanted to put celebrities and real people, regular people, and to make the point that after watching it for a couple of days, you forget who the celebrities and real people are, because we`re all just humans. We`re all treated the same. But I had an interesting experience.
When I was preparing to consent the regular people, I was going through a process where I was evaluating them and asking them how they would feel if they went on a reality show, they all had kind of a vacant look like, well, I want to be on TV, and I though, well, yes, but you`re going to be on TV, and your lives -- so my -- and I realized a regular person cannot actually render an informed consent to bring their private life public because they don`t appreciate what that means. Is that one of the issues here?
RICHARDS: Of course. I strongly advised my client, Mr. Armstrong, what was going to happen because I have historical background, and you know, people don`t want to listen. It`s like telling an alcoholic you need to stop drinking. It takes a crash.
PINSKY: But then, now, Jeana, I`m going to go out to you. But then, you basically sign everything away. I mean, you were just a regular person, and then, you decided to put your private life public. You sign everything away. I mean, you`re a big girl. You`re an adult. You actually make the decision to do that. What was that process like for you?
JEANA KEOUGH, FMR. STAR, "REAL HOUSEIVES OF ORANGE COUNTY": Well, I still controlled my destiny. If I didn`t like the way the line of the day was going, I just put an end to it. I tried to limit the embarrassment to my family, and if something was wrong and the kids were in a bad mood, it`s like, we`re not filming today. They`re just too grumpy.
But later, when I did "Thinnervention," we actually had a psychologist, psychiatrist interview us, and we had to do two or three different interviews because they wanted to make sure everybody was OK to be put in a group and be pushed like we got pushed on that show. But "The Housewives of Orange County," we didn`t do that. Maybe, they do now, but they didn`t.
PINSKY: But the reality is we really don`t know what questions to ask to determine whether somebody is stable enough to be on a reality show. We really don`t know. We know where --
KEOUGH: Have you been arrested lately?
PINSKY: What`s that? Oh, yes. Those are the questions. Are you hearing voices?
KEOUGH: Have you ever been arrested? Have you ever had mental health?
PINSKY: Are you hearing voices (INAUDIBLE) doing drugs? That kind of stuff, but there`s a pretty -- we really don`t know what it takes to make somebody safe on a reality show. On the therapeutic shows, like I imagine that was more of a therapeutic show, at least, you got all of that therapeutic structure around you. It`s the shows that don`t have that component that we`re really kind of wondering about tonight.
So, when we come back, want to be on a reality show? Be careful what you wish for as we`re finding out. We`re going to hear more cautionary words after the break.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VOICE OF JOHN ANN HOTCHKISS, RUSSELL ARMSTRONG`S MOTHER: What bothered me, I think, the most was on the program itself, and this is on video, he would be bashed by some of the other cast members. I know it hurt him deeply, because he would talk to me about it. Never criticizing Taylor, of course, I would not want him to. But the program itself, it just really brought him down.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY: That was Russell Armstrong`s grieving mother, shedding lights on the impact of reality television and what she felt it had done to her son`s life while he was still alive, obviously. Now, some are saying Russell`s appearance on "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" at least contributed to his suicide.
I`m back with Ronald Richards. He is Russell Armstrong`s attorney. Jeana Keough is a former star of "The Real Housewives of Orange County." Vienna Girardi is - she received the final rose on "The Bachelor." Jeana, how does being -- did being on a reality show negatively or positively affect your life?
KEOUGH: Towards the end, it started to be negative. I found myself seeking psychiatric help, being on anti-depressants, and realized this isn`t working for me. It`s too stressful. And I know I can`t do it. It`s not for everybody. It`s a tough -- it`s a tough road. There`s a certain expectation.
PINSKY: Yes. And there`s an interesting sort of bit of data that my wife and I keep looking at, which every time reality cameras come into a home, the marriages split. It seems like almost every time. I don`t know if this kind of marriages that want a camera in their home or the cameras are doing something, but it sort of seems to happen a lot. Let`s take a look at a clip of Jeana in "The Real Housewives of Orange County." Here we go.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, why is she here? It`s a little awkward being around Jeana, because Jeana is great friends with Simon, and they hang out all the time.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We`re going to show another look that`s kind of a more casual. Just a different version.
KEOUGH: When I first walked in, Tamara didn`t say hi. I don`t know if she saw me or not. I don`t know. It`s like, whatever.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Jeana looks great. She just has a nasty soul.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY: Nice. Jeana, looking back, do you feel as though you actually had enough information to consent to do that program?
KEOUGH: You know, I was an actress for over 10 years. So, I had a pretty good idea what it would be entailed. So, I think I had a better idea than most of the people, and I would say to Gretchen, put the tequila down. Tamara, don`t do that. Vicki, lighten up, you know? So, I was kind of the mother hen. So, I had an idea and a pretty good clue that they weren`t going to be very happy after they saw what they looked like on TV.
And the first year of a reality show, it`s awesome, but after that, it`s very -- the girls are calculating, and they`re pitching their products, and they learn. So, it`s really tough to get that great candid stuff.
PINSKY: Ronald, is your concern about this issue of consent? Is that one of your concerns? What are your issues coming and representing Russell?
RICHARDS: Well, my issues are that I think he`s being unfairly characterized. And now, there`s all sorts of fabrications being created as to why the marriage ended. The simple reason why it ended is Russell couldn`t continue to finance this fictitious lifestyle, and also, he was becoming difficult in getting pounded every week by the show and what was down the road.
And so, when he wasn`t playing ball anymore, it was just a business decision and an emotional decision to end the marriage. It`s nothing personal. It`s just that`s what Ms. Armstrong -- Mrs. Armstrong wanted to do. And, he was trying to cope with it.
PINSKY: Do you know him to be under a lot of stress or depressed? Or did he have a previous history of any mental illness?
RICHARDS: No, he didn`t have a previous history of mental illness, and there was no previous history of domestic violence in this relationship.
PINSKY: That`s been brought up elsewhere, though, other relationships.
RICHARDS: Yes. He had a prior misdemeanor conviction for battery many, many years ago, just like his prior conviction was over 10 years ago. We don`t label someone with a scarlet letter forever. There was some alcohol involved between the two of them.
PINSKY: Last time?
RICHARDS: Yes, with Taylor Armstrong, too. They drank a little too much one night. There was some bad words, a couple, you know, touches, but nothing were either one contented there was criminal behavior. That sometimes happens, as you know, when couples drink excessively together.
PINSKY: Right. I mean, it`s a sad story.
RICHARDS: It`s a very sad story, because he loved his wife and didn`t want to get divorced.
PINSKY: That`s sad. Now, Vienna, I want to talk to you now. Vienna, as I think you all know, received the final rose and an engagement ring from bachelor, Jake Pavelka, but their fairytale romance was short lived and came to a very emotional end right in front of us on national television. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What did you love about Jake that day?
GIRARDI: He was genuine at that time. He was compassionate. He was fun to be around. When I was around him, I enjoyed being around him. He smiled, he hugged me, he wanted to be with me. You know, we talked, and we opened up together. And after the show was over, that just went away. You know, he wasn`t compassionate. He didn`t care. He didn`t try.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY: So, Vienna, that looks very disturbing. And it happened in front of everybody. Talk to me about that, and what control maybe you did or didn`t have in the production of the show.
GIRARDI: I knew personally for me. I was 22 when I went on the show. I was completely naive. I was right out of college. I had no idea what I was getting, you know, myself into. When they send you that 25-page contract, you look at that thing and you`re like, yey, this is going to be so much fun.
PINSKY: But in there is the consent. You got to understand, there`s a lot of consent in language.
GIRARDI: It tells you, they can humiliate you, they can manipulate, so they can create (ph) a completely new character of you. They can do anything they want to you, but you`re so naive. I remember going back and looking at the contract finally after the show was over and being filmed going, they can do whatever they want to me.
PINSKY: Didn`t you have an attorney or family member or somebody else look at this with you?
GIRARDI: I`m from Florida. So, there`s not many entertainment lawyers out there. I think I had my dad`s tax lawyer look at the contract.
PINSKY: What`s that?
RICHARDS: They`re non-negotiable.
PINSKY: Yes. That`s right.
GIRARDI: And it is. This is what you have. Take it or leave it. And, you know, my mom was like, it will be a great opportunity. It will be fun. Just go do it. Never realizing what you`re get -- not realizing what you`re putting yourself into, not realizing that after the show airs. They can portray you to be a wonderful person, a terrible person. You`re going to be plastered in the media.
PINSKY: How did they portray you?
GIRARDI: They portrayed me evil. Watching it myself, I see that. I never said or did anything mean, but it was how they portrayed other people towards me.
PINSKY: And do you regret having done this?
GIRARDI: I do not regret anything that I`ve ever done in my entire life. I think that everything happens for a reason. But on the next show that I did sign up for, I know what they can do now. And I`m strong, and I can handle it. So, when I get the hate mail, I get it, and I can take it.
PINSKY: So, did you -- were you able to control the contracting process? Or do you just control in the producing? Like Jeana said, when things got bad, she just said go home, like she was in control.
GIRARDI: We have no control over what`s being produced, what`s being seen. And "The Bachelor," "Bachelorette," and "Bachelor Pad, " you`re being filmed all day long. So, when we`re having a bad day or you`re fighting with somebody or you`re having a very intimate personal moment that you don`t want on camera --
PINSKY: It`s going on.
GIRARDI: Too bad. It`s going on.
PINSKY: All right. Thank you, guys. Thank you, Ronald, Jeana, and Vienna.
Next, so what happens now? Does the show go on or does "Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" need to go away or on hiatus? We`re going to talk about that. Stay with us.
PINSKY: We`re talking about the future of "Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" in light of the suicide of one of the cast members. Jeana, I`m going to go out to you. How do you think the show should handle this death, and should the show go on from your perspective?
KEOUGH: Yes. I mean, "The Real Housewives" have been on for six years. It`s a wonderful cross-section of people`s lives, and it`s extremely interesting and very successful, and, it will bring attention to a very serious situation, depression. And I`m sure Bravo will handle it tactfully and tastefully. And it`s a learning experience. I`m very curious if he was under psychiatric care and on Prozac, because that would make you take your life if someone`s taking that stuff.
PINSKY: Well, his attorney says no.
KEOUGH: It would make me feel better.
PINSKY: His attorney says no, but you do bring up an interesting point. Yes, a very important point. Vienna, I`m going to see if you feel the same way, but the point being that we can learn from these programs. That`s very true.
PINSKY: And people seem to want them. Vienna, how do you feel about this topic?
GIRARDI: It takes a very strong person. And going into your first reality show, you`re not a strong person. Some people are. But it takes, you know, your second year, second year of filming or second show, for you to realize what you`re going to be put through and what may happen. And, you know, there`s a girl in the show that we just gone done filming right now who`s not a very strong person.
So, as they edit her to be crazy or mean or portray as (ph) whatever, she can`t handle that. She can`t handle it. And so, I understand how --
PINSKY: Did anybody provide any help for her or any referrals?
GIRARDI: There is a psychiatrist.
GIRARDI: At all times.
PINSKY: So there`s attempt to sort of contain this. Is there any after care?
GIRARDI: No. That`s the thing.
PINSKY: Do they make referrals for after care?
GIRARDI: If something is going on in your life afterwards, they will have their psychiatrist come and talk to you.
PINSKY: OK. (INAUDIBLE), anyway. Ron, I`ve got less than a minute. Last words are to you. What do we do with all this?
RICHARDS: I think we need to edit out Russell`s character out of the show.
PINSKY: Out of respect.
RICHARDS: It`s the right thing to do, and maybe his wife.
PINSKY: But let`s be clear. Money drives these programs. People are going to want to see this. Do you think they`re going to do the right thing or is public demand going to dictate?
RICHARDS: I don`t think it`s going to affect their bottom line. There are three kids. He has three kids, not just one child. And I think that if they have any decency, they would just cut the character and my client out of this. Let a year go by. She can come back next year, and everybody will move on.
PINSKY: I think that`s a sensible way to deal with this. It is just a sad story. And, again, I`m not -- I don`t think we should be laying blame at the feed of reality television. As I`ve said, people, they`re adults. They consent to this thing. Now, my research has shown the people that show up on reality sets tend to have some pre-existing pathologies and some liabilities, but they`re not sick per se, and they`re adults.
I think, perhaps, we can learn from this, even this conversation. And those of you that are contemplating consenting for something like this, really give it some thought. Don`t do it -- and a few words before we go. They relate to the missing American story, and the reality star suicide, and almost everything we do everyday. I`m going to invoke the words. This is going to sound fancy, and I don`t mean to be, but Immanuel Kant and the Categorical Imperative.
So mouthful, but it`s really simple as its core, and that is that no one is above the moral law. It requires we just do the right thing because it`s the right thing. And we behold ourselves and everyone to the same code. And part of that imperative is that we shouldn`t use others as objects, as means to an end. But that is -- you can`t use them for monetary gain, fame, position, advancement. You have to deal with them as people and care for them as people.
We can do that on reality shows. I know we can do that. We can hybridize these things. And there`s no excuses for doing otherwise. And that may be why we feel such outrage when we see these sort of questionable situations, and we`re quick to judge about it. So, think about it. And I`d like to tell you all thank you all for being here, and we`ll see you next time.