Richard Simmons, the celebrity health and fitness guru, sued two tabloid publications Monday, saying they defamed him by publishing stories claiming he had had a sex change.
Lawyers for Simmons, who disappeared from the public stage in 2014 but was thrust back into the spotlight this year when a podcast exploring his reclusiveness became a runaway hit, said in a libel lawsuit that the National Enquirer and Radar Online had acted "with calculated malice" by publishing stories that stated he had transitioned from male to female.
While Simmons, 68, supports transgender rights, he is entitled to fair reporting, his lawyers argued. "Mr. Simmons, like every person in this nation, has a legal right to insist that he not be portrayed as someone he is not," they said in the lawsuit.
The lawsuit was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court. Simmons is suing the companies on four counts of libel and one count of invasion of privacy.
The reports, published in June by the Enquirer and Radar, both properties of American Media Inc., which is also named in the lawsuit, had alleged that Simmons had a sex-change operation and was living under the name Fiona. Simmons and his lawyers argue that the reports are false and stem from Mauro Oliveira, a man they accuse in the lawsuit of stalking and seeking to extort and blackmail Simmons over several years.
In response, the tabloids published a joint statement accusing Simmons of hypocrisy. "For decades, Richard Simmons has used his outrageous behavior to build his brand and his bank account," the statement said. "For Mr. Simmons to now claim that his privacy has been invaded is hypocritical when his entire livelihood is based upon the public consumption of his image."
Kimmel zings critics of health care plea
Jimmy Kimmel zinged his critics as he returned to late-night TV and resumed arguing that Americans deserve the level of health care given his infant son. Back on ABC's "Jimmy Kimmel Live" Monday after a week's absence, he said baby Billy is recovering well from open-heart surgery for a birth defect and thanked well-wishers. Then he joked: "I made an emotional speech that was seen by millions, and as a result of my powerful words on that night, Republicans in Congress had second thoughts about repeal and replace [the Affordable Care Act] I saved health insurance in the United States of America! What's that? I didn't save it?" The House approved the American Health Care Act last week. He dismissed those who labeled him an elitist — as a youngster, his family bought powdered milk because they couldn't afford fresh, he said — and pretended to repent for his previous comments. "I'd like to apologize for saying that children in America should have health care," he said.
It's coming back: "American Idol," the genre-shattering singing competition show that went off the air just a year ago because of falling ratings, is coming back to television on ABC. The network said Tuesday that it would revive the old Fox hit sometime during the 2017-18 television season. The network did not say who the judges would be, or name a host.