In the runup to its premiere last week at the Sundance Film Festival, the new short The Court Jester stirred up some controversy. The film features Pauly Shore as famed fitness coach/TV personality Richard Simmons, and while there are aspirations to make a feature, the real Richard Simmons (who prefers to stay out of the spotlight these days) shared a post on social media saying that it isn't a project that was made with his endorsement. The online comment ended up going viral, but according to Shore, any animosity that existed has apparently dissipated.
Paul Shore went on stage to introduce The Court Jester prior to its premiere in Park City, Utah this past Friday, and in a video obtained by TMZ, he is featured telling the audience that he received a pre-screening text from the man he hopes to portray in an upcoming film (this was two days after Richard Simmons' post on Facebook). Said Shore,
Tonight, he texted me and he said, 'Good luck tonight on the show.' So, let's give it up for Richard Simmons.
Written and directed by Jake Lewis, The Court Jester is a 10-minute short that centers on a producer for The Ellen DeGeneres Show (Jesse Heiman) who is underappreciated at work and struggling to eat healthier. When he gets chewed out by a co-worker after a segment featuring Richard Simmons (Pauly Shore), he finds himself extremely tempted by a donut in craft services, but his moment of desire is interrupted by some insightful advice.
In the introduction to the movie at Sundance, Pauly Shore talked about the project's origins – and apparently The Court Jester was partially born out of the fact that Shore's looks kept getting compared to Simmons'. He told the excited crowd,
Several years ago, people started telling me that I looked like Richard Simmons, and I said, 'I thought more like Billy Crystal.' Anyways, I'm a comedian, I like to fuck with people, I like to have a good time, and that's really what this is about.
Following its film festival premiere, The Court Jester got its public release on the YouTube channel for The Lewis Brothers. You can watch the short for yourself below:
Despite the impression you might get from Pauly Shore's introductory comments at Sundance, The Court Jester is ultimately a sweet short film with a positive message; it certainly isn't a parody, and it doesn't turn Richard Simmons into a punchline (which Millennials, Gen Xers and Boomers will remember was a very popular thing for comedians to do back in the 1980s and 1990s). It is a project that seems to have been made with the good intentions.
Whether or not we'll ever get to see a feature film version of The Court Jester is unknown at present, and if it does end up getting developed, it's unclear if it will end up getting Richard Simmons' blessing and/or input. Stay tuned here on CinemaBlend for updates, and discover all of the features that are confirmed to be released in the coming months with our 2024 Movie Release Calendar.