Richard Simmons' rep denies housekeeper controlling star

Richard Simmons' publicist is speaking out in defense of the reclusive weight-loss guru amid the launch of a popular podcast that seeks to find out why Simmons has been missing from the public eye.

"Missing Richard Simmons" is hosted by Dan Taberski, a filmmaker who describes himself as a friend of Simmons. On a recent episode, Simmons' former masseuse and friend Mauro Oliveira said Simmons is being controlled by his housekeeper.

Simmons publicist Tom Estey denied Oliveira's claims in an interview with People magazine . Estey tells People that Simmons has made a choice "to live a more private life." He says when Simmons "decides that he wants to come back, that's when he'll come back."

Estey says he's not cooperating with Taberski's podcast.

This story has been automatically published from the Associated Press wire which uses US spellings

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