Hand-wringing over Richard Simmons’s well-being has become a national pastime, thanks to the hit podcast Missing Richard Simmons. This week, Simmons’s beloved brother Lenny Simmons joined the chorus that includes the LAPD and Simmons himself to sing assurances to the public that Richard Simmons is okay.
“I talked to him on Sunday, he was doing great,” Lenny told Entertainment Tonight in a phone interview. “He was asking about our renovations to our home. And we had just gone to see the Broadway musical Beautiful. We talk every Sunday. He calls me and we have a great conversation and then he talks to my wife. He probably talks to my wife longer than he talks to me.”
Lenny also said that Simmons’s housekeeper, Teresa Reveles, who’s been accused of holding Simmons hostage, is “a very lovely lady” and that, “It stresses me to hear that people think that she is holding him hostage or that she is mean. She isn’t. She is a very nice person.”
“My brother certainly deserves his vacation,” said Lenny. “I certainly cannot fault him for wanting to do that...I would just hope people [can] be a little bit more respectful and realize that he’s worked hard and he still loves people—but he needs some time for himself.”
Lenny also appeared on this week’s episode of Missing Richard Simmons, which dropped today. He famously (I guess, if you’re following this) slammed the door on Missing host Dan Taberski when Taberski showed up at his house in pursuit of an interview, but later agreed to discuss his brother with Taberski by phone.
“He’s not angry with anybody, it’s just like he decided all right I’ve done it and now I just want to be quiet,” said Lenny on his brother’s adopted reclusiveness to Taberski. Imagine more people doing that and the world becoming less noisy. Imagine utopia.
Incidentally, if you missed Amanda Hess’s utter annihilation of Missing Richard Simmons that ran in the New York Times earlier this week, I highly suggest reading it:
In a forthcoming episode, Mr. Taberski digs into a tabloid report that Mr. Simmons is transitioning to female. He takes a moment to note that Mr. Simmons’s gender identity is nobody’s business but his own, then forges right ahead.
Mr. Taberski ultimately decides that the report is false — Mr. Simmons himself rebutted the story on Facebook — but regardless of its veracity, it feels exploitative to spread it while simultaneously championing the podcast’s great respect for Mr. Simmons’s privacy. A serious journalistic transgression — outing a person — is played here as just another sensational twist to be picked apart for podcast fodder. Mr. Taberski ends the segment with a jokey shrug: “But if he is transitioning? Mazel tov. But he’s not. I don’t think?”
...Mr. Taberski told The New York Times that the podcast “was coming from a place of love and coming from a place of real concern.” In Episode 2, Mr. Taberski takes listeners on a drive up to Mr. Simmons’s gated home for what he half-seriously calls a “stakeout.” “I don’t want him to feel like I’m invading his privacy,” Mr. Taberski says. “On the other hand, I’m Richard’s friend.”
Is this what friends do? Turn their loved one’s personal crisis into a fun mystery investigation and record it for a hit podcast? (It has topped the iTunes podcast charts for four straight weeks.) Despite his claims, Mr. Taberski is not principally a “friend” to Mr. Simmons. In the podcast, he presents himself as a regular at Slimmons Studio who became friendly with the instructor, but really he was always a documentarian circling a sensational subject. (Talk of a film documentary dissolved when Mr. Simmons cut off contact with Mr. Taberski.)