No apol­ogy from pod­caster

Dan Taber­ski re­flects on ‘Miss­ing Richard Sim­mons’ for Hot Docs fest

Cape Breton Post - - Arts/Entertainment -

The cre­ator of a hit pod­cast that in­ves­ti­gated the health and well-be­ing of Richard Sim­mons says he has no re­grets about the show that was crit­i­cized for in­vad­ing the pri­vacy of the now-reclu­sive fit­ness le­gend.

“Miss­ing Richard Sim­mons’’ host Dan Taber­ski, who is in the lineup for the Hot Docs Pod­cast Fes­ti­val that kicked off Thurs­day, says he still hasn’t spo­ken with the 69-year-old “Sweatin’ to the Oldies’’ star but he be­lieves he’s liv­ing “the life he chooses to lead right now.’’

“I’ve said from the be­gin­ning he owes no­body any­thing and I’m glad that, for what­ever rea­son, he’s do­ing things the way he wants to,’’ Taber­ski, who hails from Queens, N.Y., said this week in a phone in­ter­view.

“I had break­fast with his man­ager a month or two ago ... and I feel con­vinced that he’s do­ing OK and that he’s liv­ing the life he wants.’’

“Miss­ing Richard Sim­mons’’ de­buted in Fe­bru­ary and aimed to find out why the beloved Sim­mons re­treated from pub­lic life in 2014.

Taber­ski was a reg­u­lar at Sim­mons’s for­mer ex­er­cise class Slim­mons in Bev­erly Hills, Calif., and said he con­sid­ered him­self to be a friend of the com­i­cal work­out en­thu­si­ast. He said he was gen­uinely con­cerned for Sim­mons when he seem­ingly “dis­ap­peared.’’

While crit­ics lauded the pod­cast for be­ing en­gag­ing and ad­dic­tive, some also ques­tioned if it went too far in prob­ing Sim­mons’s per­sonal life for de­tails on his phys­i­cal and men­tal health. One colum­nist in the New York Times called the pod­cast “morally sus­pect’’ while another in the Guardian asked, “Is the hit pod­cast an elab­o­rate stalk­ing stunt?’’

Taber­ski said he’s proud the pod­cast took Sim­mons se­ri­ously and “didn’t treat him like, ‘Oh, the guy in the short shorts, he’s that funny guy on Let­ter­man, he’s the guy that Howard Stern makes fun of, he’s the punch­line.’’’

He said the pod­cast asks com­pli­cated ques­tions like: “What does one per­son owe another per­son? What does a celebrity owe peo­ple? What is em­pa­thy and what is the cost of em­pa­thy? What hap­pens when you put your life out there for 40 years and then de­cide one day to stop do­ing that?’’

“If we’re go­ing to ask com­pli­cated ques­tions, I think it’s OK for peo­ple to ask me com­pli­cated ques­tions ... and I think that crit­i­cism was part of that and I wel­comed it,’’ said Taber­ski, 44.

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