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Feel the Burn! Pauly Shore is Playing Fitness Guru Richard Simmons — and Simmons Wants Nothing to Do With It

‘We all need this biopic,’ says ‘Encino Man’ actor Shore


spinner image Richard Simmons and Pauly Shore
Richard Simmons (left) and Pauly Shore
Peter Kramer/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty Images; Monica Schipper/Getty Images for IMDb

Sweatin’ To the Oldies star Richard Simmons, 75, who once proclaimed himself the "clown prince" of fitness, is back in the public spotlight — against his will.

After the Sundance Film Festival debut of the short film The Court Jester, in which his near-lookalike Pauly Shore, 55, played Simmons, and the announcement of a forthcoming Simmons biopic that will also star Shore, Simmons — who dropped out of public life in 2014 — said on Facebook, “I have never given my permission for this movie.”

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Shore wants the spotlight as much as Simmons does not. In September, he posted that he’d been “playing phone tag” with Simmons, and insisted, “I definitely can morph into this guy. I’ll see you at the Academy Awards 2025.” Shore is thrilled about the feature film, to be produced by Mark Wolper, 63, whose company won two Oscars and 50 Emmys, creating over 500 films and shows, often about real people, including Roots, Sybil, The Betty Ford Story and Helter Skelter.

Wolper, who thinks only Shore could play Simmons, is in talks with a major screenwriter for a film with a tone like the 2006 Sundance breakout hit comedy Little Miss Sunshine. Wolper said both Shore and Simmons “lived or died by how the world perceived them; they both fought to give their fans what they wanted and they both deserve an amazing comeback story!” The Wolper Organization put out this statement: “While we would love to have [Simmons] involved, we respect his desire to privacy and plan to produce a movie that honors him, celebrates him and tells a dramatic story.”

“We all need this biopic now more than ever,” Shore said. But few need it more than he does: his career slumped after his big 1992 hit Encino Man. “Simmons represented mental health, getting people in shape and being his authentic silly self," said Shore. "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.”

Simmons’ longtime publicist had no comment on the fracas, and Simmons posted, "I no longer have a manager, and I no longer have a publicist. I just try to live a quiet life and be peaceful.”

Simmons has remained mostly reclusive since his last screen performance, on eight episodes of General Hospital in 2013. When he left LA’s Cedars-Sinai Hospital after a brief stay in 2017, he thwarted paparazzi by hiding himself head to toe in a blanket in his Mercedes, driven by his housekeeper. His extraordinary retreat from fame inspired the 2022 documentary TMZ Investigates: What Really Happened to Richard Simmons?

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Simmons’ friends and relatives have repeatedly insisted that he’s fine and happy, and his comment about the Shore movie isn’t his only public statement about his decade in privacy. In 2016, Simmons told the Today show’s Savannah Guthrie, “I just sort of wanted to be a little bit of a loner for a little while. I had hurt my knee, and I had some problems with it, and then the other knee started giving me trouble because I’ve taught, like, thousands and thousands of classes, and you know right now I just want to sort of take care of me.”

Simmons then added, “You haven’t seen the last of me. I’ll come back, and I’ll come back strong.” We hope so!

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