Fitness legend-turned-recluse Richard Simmons has just signed with a licensing firm, possibly indicating he's positioning himself to make an epic comeback.
The 68-year-old signed with Prominent Brand + Talent, founded by Simmons' manager Michael Catalano, agreeing to give the company exclusive rights to represent him in matters of any potential merchandising, endorsement, or licensing opportunities, according to the New York Times. Furthermore, the report suggests this deal may be the result of Simmons' recent re-emergence in pop culture thanks in part to Dan Taberski's popular "Missing Richard Simmons" podcast series. Discussed in March on the Stern Show, the podcast sought to find out precisely what had become of the celebrity after he disappeared from the public eye in 2014 and finally closed his Slimmons studio for good last November.
Listen to that conversation (below):
While Simmons' manager has said he's "very conflicted about the podcast"—including several alleged "mistruths" he said it furthered—he conceded "Missing Richard Simmons" has benefited his client, too. "Certainly I would say, without a doubt, a younger demo is aware of Richard as a result," Catalano told the Times. "At the end of the day, if it helps deliver his message to people who were unaware of it previously, fantastic. That's what Richard's mission has always been."
According to the Times, renewed interest in Simmons as a result of the podcast directly contributed to Simmons seeking out new business deals, like the one with Prominent Brand + Talent.
"He changed lives, and he's a genius businessperson. If I had even the smallest part in reminding people of that, fantastic," Taberski told the Times.
As for the products Simmons might soon be licensing, his manager assured the world they'd be fitness related. "We're talking about inspiration-themed products that will hopefully accomplish what Richard really set his life's work to do, which is to help people take better care of themselves," Catalano said. "We're not licensing tires and party hats."
Click here to revisit the recent Stern Show discussion about "Missing Richard Simmons."
Click here for a look back at the fitness mogul's 2013 visit to the studio.