Richard Simmons leaps at Idea Network's image plan

WHIPPANY, NJ: The Idea Network, an 18-month-old, two-person media

and PR boutique, has been hired to sweat the details of Richard Simmons'

public image. The fuzzy-haired fitness coach is the first celebrity

client to retain the full-time services of the firm, which is operated

by founder and president Erin Saxton and former Lippe Taylor director of

media relations Jennifer Urezzio.

"We have had a great working relationship with the Idea Network," said

Celebrities Plus president Michael Catalano, who serves as Simmons'

business manager. Catalano added that the "personal attention" Saxton

and Urezzio will be able to provide convinced him to steer his client

their way. In the past, Simmons' publicity was handled by larger

outfits, including BWR.

The Idea Network - which landed another new job recently when the

American Heart Association tapped it to generate coverage for its

spokesperson, gymnast Dominique Dawes, and the organization's "Choose to

Move" campaign - will focus on "reintroducing" Simmons to the


Saxton said that she and Urezzio hope to capitalize on his busy travel

schedule to arrange interviews with local media outlets. National

audiences, meanwhile, will be shown lesser-known sides of Simmons;

future television appearances, for example, might emphasize his culinary


"I think a lot of people think, 'Oh Richard, he's just crazy,' or, 'He's

just a lot of fun,'" explained Saxton. "But there's more to Richard than

just a guy who runs on stage in a pair of striped shorts."

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