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Richard Simmons: Movie studio responds as fitness guru publicly disowns film about his life

Richard Simmons has distanced himself from a new biopic starring Pauly Shore just hours after it was announced.

The 75-year-old former fitness guru – who retreated from public life nearly 10 years ago – issued a rare statement on Wednesday (16 January) to clarify he had not signed off on the project while reiterating his desire to “live a quiet life and be peaceful”.

“Hi Everybody! You may have heard they may be doing a movie about me with Pauly Shore. I have never given my permission for this movie. So don’t believe everything you read,” Simmons, who is worth an estimated $20m, wrote on Facebook.

“I no longer have a manager, and I no longer have a publicist. I just try to live a quiet life and be peaceful. Thank you for all your love and support.”

The biopic is being developed by Warner Bros subsidiary The Wolper Organisation and was announced earlier on Wednesday.

Shore said he was “really excited about sharing Richard Simmons’s life with the world”, adding the world needs to see the movie “now more than ever” in a statement obtained by Variety.

The 55-year-old comedian added: “Simmons represented mental health, getting people in shape and being his authentic silly self! Whenever he was on TV you could never take your eyes off of him and he brought such a joy to his appearances that represented nothing but a good time.”

Flamboyant, well-loved fitness instructor retreated from public life in 2014 (Getty Images for EGPAF)
Flamboyant, well-loved fitness instructor retreated from public life in 2014 (Getty Images for EGPAF)

The Wolper Organisation said “we would never want to invade” Simmons’s privacy and that their plan is to “produce a movei that honours him, celebrate him and tells a dramatic story.”

“We know he is deeply private and we would never want to invade that, however he is an amazing person that changed millions of peoples’ lives, and the effect he has had on the world needs to be recognised,” the statement read.

A senior executive at the studio said Shore was picked to play the role after the comedian’s uncanny resemblance to Simmons became a viral meme last year.

Previously reacting to the meme, Shore said he had reached out to Simmons about portraying him in a movie.

“I’ve noticed all the reactions to me playing Richard Simmons in a new biopic,” he wrote on Facebook last September. “I heard he’s living deep in Big Bear.

“We’ve been playing phone tag (yes, he still has a phone). I’m trying to make it happen for you guys. Be optimistic.”

The Encino Man star actor has also played Simmons – whose “Sweatin’ to the Oldies” aerobics videos made him a household name in the US in the Eighties – in an unrelated film called The Court Jester.

The short film is directed by Jake Lewis and will premiere at the Sundance festival on Friday (19 January) before being released on YouTube.

News of the biopic divided Shore’s fans, with some people urging him to respect Simmons’s wishes.

Commenting under an one of Shore’s recent Instagram posts about how the biopic finally became a reality, one person wrote: “The resemblance is uncanny. I’m actually interested in watching this, but like others I wish it had Simmons blessings.”

The Court Jester: Pauly Shore stars as Richard Simmons in biopic (Paramount Pictures)
The Court Jester: Pauly Shore stars as Richard Simmons in biopic (Paramount Pictures)

“So Richard said no and you’re going to do this anyway?” another person enquired.

A third, similar comment read: “So many of us wish you would respect Richard and give him the privacy he deserves and wants. How does this work when he gives no consent to his likeness, image, story & name?”

Others encouraged Shore to “go get that Oscar”, referring to the meme that highlighted how similar he and Simmons look.

Simmons became a public figure after he opened a fitness studio – called The Anatomy Asylum before being rebranded as Slimmons – in Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, in 1974.

The flamoyant, beloved fitness instructor made routine appearances on American radio and TV talk shows, including The Ellen DeGeneres Show and the Late Show with David Letterman. His widespread fame also led to cameos on shows such asGeneral Hospital, The Larry Sanders Show and Arrested Development.

He has not made a public appearance since 2014, quietly retreating from the spotlight. Amid concerns over his wheareabouts, Simmons gave a phone interview to The Today Show to deny he was being held hostage by his housekeeper in 2016.

He has also repeatedly stated he has simply chosen to live a life away from the public glare.

In 2022, a representative told the New York Post: “Richard is eternally grateful for the continuous outpouring of love and gratitude he has received from across the globe. He is happy, healthy and living the life he has chosen to live.”