Richard Simmons is mad as heck at the National Enquirer for publishing articles saying he is undergoing a sex change — but the tabloid is sticking by its stories.
On Monday, the fitness guru, 68, filed a libel lawsuit against the paper and its publishers in Los Angeles Superior Court, claiming that his former assistant Mauro Oliveira “blackmailed, extorted and stalked” him, People reported.
Simmons, who hasn’t been seen in public since February 2014, says Oliveira’s actions have led to his continued absence from the spotlight.
Simmons attorneys said Oliveira maliciously sold false information to the paper (and the website Radar Online), although the outlets knew it was untrue.
At the same time, the suit says, Oliveira (who is not named in the suit) was threatening Simmons in emails, saying he would “destroy his reputation” unless he paid him to stop.
Oliveira told the tabloid that Simmons was hiding during a transition from man to woman; another time, he said Simmons was being held hostage by his housekeeper.
The National Enquirer responded, “We stand by our reporting … and intend to vigorously defend this lawsuit and win public vindication. We will also aggressively pursue our ongoing investigation into his life and who is really behind this bizarre and meritless lawsuit.”
Meanwhile, photos on the tabloids’ sites of Simmons in a dress and makeup give the impression that Simmons is making some kind of transition.
ANOTHER TV REPUBLICAN
Antonio Sabato Jr., who appeared in the soaps “General Hospital” and “Melrose Place,” is running for Congress.
Sabato, who filed statements of candidacy the Federal Election Commission on Monday, is running as a Republican, against Democratic representative for California’s 26th district Julia Brownley, who was elected in 2012.
According to Variety, California GOP strategist and former Donald Trump delegate Charles Moran will serve on Sabato’s campaign.
Jennifer Lopez, promoting her new show “World of Dance” on “Today,” told hosts Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb that she preferred the nickname J-Rod (to A-Lo) to describe her romance with retired ball player Alex Rodriguez. (Remember Bennifer with Ben Affleck?) … Ryan Seacrest told Kelly Ripa that he didn’t know if he’d be able to host “American Idol” if it returns to the airwaves.
Actress Grace Gummer is 31. … Actress Rosario Dawson is 38. … Singer David Gahan of Depeche Mode is 55. … Actor John Corbett is 56. … Singer Billy Joel is 68. ,,, Actress Candice Bergen is 71. … Singer-guitarist Richie Furay (Buffalo Springfield, Poco) is 73. … Producer-director James L. Brooks is 80. … Actress-turned-politician Glenda Jackson is 81. … Actor Albert Finney is 81.