UPDATED, 2:11 p.m.: Less than 12 hours after news broke that Pauly Shore would portray fitness guru Richard Simmons in a biopic in development at The Wolper Organization, Simmons has surfaced on Facebook to distance himself from the project.
“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 wrote. “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.”
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Shore came to star in the forthcoming feature on Simmons’ life after campaigning for such a project to be made, when memes went viral online noting that if any actor should be cast in a Simmons biopic given physical resemblance alone, it should be him. He also portrays the personality in The Court Jester, a short soon to premiere at Park City during the Sundance Film Festival. Read more about both Simmons-focused film projects below.
PREVIOUSLY, 8:00 a.m.: Over the last year, Pauly Shore has taken note of viral memes comparing his visage to that of fitness icon Richard Simmons, willing a feature biopic into existence — and now, one has coalesced, Deadline has learned.
The project starring Shore as Simmons is in development at The Wolper Organization, a subsidiary of Warner Bros. Additional casting is currently underway.
Shore comes to the project after portraying Simmons in The Court Jester, a short premiering in Park City, UT amidst the Sundance Film Festival. Also starring Tamra Brown as Ellen Degeneres, among others, that film is written and directed by Jake Lewis, the indie filmmaker best known for the short starring Jamie Costa as Robin Williams, which went viral a couple of years ago given the actor’s spot-on impression.
Alen Stubbs, Ehron Asher and Steven Salisbury produced The Court Jester, with Michael Ostroff and Mark Waldman exec producing, and Max Ostroff serving as co-producer. The short screens at The Cabin in Park City on January 19th and will debut on YouTube that same evening, before returning for a second in-person screening on the 22nd.
It’s not yet clear who will be teaming with Shore and producer Mark Wolper on the Simmons feature, which is unrelated to the short. But Shore made his interest in a project of the sort known last fall in a message posted to Instagram. “I’ve noticed all the reactions to me playing #RichardSimmons in a new biopic. So I reached out to him,” Shore wrote. “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.” Shore urged fans to “be optimistic, and to “hit up @hulu @amazonstudios @disneyplus @hbo and all the big producers.” Added the actor and comedian, “I definitely can morph into this guy. I’ll see you at the @theacademy 2025.”
In a statement obtained by Deadline now that the project looks to be coming to life, Shore shared that he’s “really excited about sharing Richard Simmons’s life with the world,” opining that “we all need this biopic now more than ever.” Over the course of his career, Shore reflected, Simmons came to represent “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.”
The Wolper Organization’s President, Mark Wolper, expressed that “there is an amazing, dramatic and uplifting story to tell about Richard Simmons. My company has been making historical dramas and biopics for over 50 years now….we know what works.” Wolper shared that his company had been “dancing around the idea” of a Simmons biopic for years, though it only coalesced when he saw “press about Pauly Shore being touted by social media as the ONLY person that could play Richard.”
After looking at photos of the two and recognizing similarities, Wolper came to realize that Simmons and Shore had more in common than one might imagine. “They both 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!!” he said. “My company has locked Pauly down to play Richard Simmons and we are in serious discussions with a major writer to develop this as a dramatic and heartfelt feature in the tone of Little Miss Sunshine.”
While little seen or heard of these days, at age 75, there was a time when Simmons had much more profile, as a fitness guru, actor, and comedian renowned for his energetic and flamboyant approach to health and wellness. It was in the 1980s that he became a household name through his high-energy aerobic workouts and colorful personality, showcased in bestselling weight loss programs, such as “Sweatin’ to the Oldies.” Beyond fitness, Simmons has made appearances on numerous television shows and talk programs, portraying himself in everything from CHiPs to The Larry Sanders Show and Arrested Development.
Shore came to prominence in the ’90s, as the star of MTV’s Totally Pauly, as well as films like Encino Man, Son in Law and Bio-Dome. Also the director of Pauly Shore Is Dead and other projects, he’s most recently been seen portraying himself in the Sundance dramedy How It Ends from Zoe Lister-Jones and Daryl Wein, and Sam Macaroni’s comedy Guest House, while continuing to tour as a comic.
Most recently, The Wolper Organization produced Warner Bros’ forthcoming adaptation of the Stephen King book Salem’s Lot. The company is perhaps best known for films like L.A. Confidential, as well as shows like Bates Motel and Roots, among many other projects.
Shore is represented by The Carry Company and Brillstein Entertainment Partners.
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