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When Bravo announced that The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills would keep its Sept. 5th premiere date, it was a controversial decision -- especially for the family and friends of late star Russell Armstrong. In a statement to HLN's Jane Velez-Mitchell, Armstrong's mother John Ann Hotchkiss expressed concern that Bravo was profiting from her son's recent suicide.
"When I was informed of this, I thought, 'I hope Bravo will take the high road and keep it tasteful,'" Hotchkiss told the news anchor. "Let's not murder my son twice."
The network has announced that they will be starting the season with an introduction addressing the Aug. 15 tragedy, as well as airing suicide prevention PSAs. Producers are also in the process of re-editing the season in light of recent events. But those close to Armstrong believe that the premiere shouldn't air so soon after his death.
"They're just taking advantage of all the free publicity," Russell's childhood friend Randy Edwards told Velez-Mitchell. "There's no reason to go through with it on Monday. It just happened; it's fresh. It's showing no respect for Russ whatsoever... They could care less about the Armstrong family right now. All they care about is ratings."
Hotchkiss has openly blamed Bravo for her son's untimely death, and has threatened to sue the network if they air any footage whatsoever of Russell this season. Her stance has created a rift with Russell's estranged wife Taylor Armstrong, who doesn't blame the show and has even leaned on her fellow Housewives in the wake of her husband's death.
But Taylor may also be dealing with other issues. According to RadarOnline, the mother of 5-year-old Kennedy might be struggling with serious financial problems (also a rumored factor in Russell's suicide).
"Taylor is scrambling to find a way to earn a living, but she isn't sure how she’s going to make end meet," says Radar's source. "Taylor's salary from the Bravo reality show was not as lucrative as they wanted people to think. Everything is currently on hold."
The source claims that Taylor "had plans to write a book before Russell committed suicide" -- which begs the question: Was that the tell-all book rumored to expose the skeletons in Russell's closet, including gay affairs? Whatever it was, Radar claims that the book has been jettisoned, and that Taylor is now "desperately trying to figure out how she is going to live and support her daughter." If that's true, it means that even if Taylor wanted to leave Real Housewives, she probably can't afford to lose the income it provides. What a sad situation for everyone involved.