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.
The podcast quickly climbed to No. 1 on the iTunes charts.
Simmons publicist Tom Estey denied Oliveira's claims in an interview with People magazine.
Estey said the claims in the podcast about Simmons' housekeeper are a "complete load of crap."
The rep told 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.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.