The #FreeBritney plot thickens.
Out Tuesday, the new Netflix documentary “Britney vs Spears” sheds new light on the “Toxic” pop icon’s ongoing fight for freedom.
Britney Spears, 39, has been living under a conservatorship since 2008. The “Circus” headliner hasn’t had control over her financial or personal life, because it’s in the hands of a team led by her father, Jamie Spears.
Everything from her access to her children to her ability to spontaneously go out for lunch has been in her 69-year-old dad’s well-compensated hands.
Some shocking details were previously made in the recent FX on Hulu documentary “Framing Britney Spears,” which exposed how Jamie had control over his daughter’s text messages, phone calls, and internet browser history.
Then Britney dropped her own bombshells during a family court hearing in June: “I’ve lied and told the whole world I’m OK and I’m happy… I am traumatized… I have an [IUD] in my body right now that won’t let me have a baby, and my conservators won’t let me go to the doctor to take it out. I feel ganged up on. I feel bullied and I feel left out and alone.”
Further reporting from Ronan Farrow alleged that Jamie called his daughter derogatory names and said, “I am Britney Spears,” referring to his own level of domination over her life. Former friend of the family Jacqueline Butcher, who attended the court hearing in which the conservatorship was first granted, said, “At the time, I thought we were helping. And I wasn’t, and I helped a corrupt family seize all this control.”
Now, in “Britney vs Spears,” investigative journalist Jenny Eliscu and documentary filmmaker Erin Lee Carr dive even deeper into the performer’s 13-year battle to control her own life — and hard-earned fortune.
Here are the most shocking key revelations from “Britney vs Spears.”
As the filmmakers explain, when you file a conservatorship, part of the paperwork involves checking off a reason that the person is unable to manage their own life. The paperwork for Britney’s conservatorship checks off “orders related to dementia placement.” This is highly unusual for cases involving young people, Carr and Eliscu note on-screen.
Evaluation from a geriatric psychiatrist
As they probe the documents of the case, the filmmakers reveal that the doctor who signed off on Britney’s alleged condition, Dr. J. Edward Spar, is a geriatric psychiatrist.
Britney was hardly elderly — she was 27 in 2008.
Further, within two months of this report proclaiming that Britney suffered from dementia, she was back to work, filming a guest appearance in an episode of “How I Met Your Mother.” “How is someone who was that ill well enough to go to work?” Carr asks on-screen.
Sam Lutfi claims he was the ‘scapegoat’
Typically when a conservatorship is filed, the person gets five days advance notice, if they wish to contest it. In Britney’s case, this five-day time window was waived, which is also unusual. The cited reason was that Britney’s then-manager Sam Lutfi was considered dangerous to the entertainer. Her parents and others in her circle were convinced that Lutfi was crushing drugs and putting them into her food.
The controversial Lutfi, who is interviewed in the documentary, denies this allegation on-screen. “To be accused of allegations that serious — that you’re drugging the world’s biggest star — you call the police, you call the FBI. You don’t call TMZ.” He maintains that he was a “scapegoat” that Jamie Spears used in order to be able to waive the typical five-day time period, to prevent Britney from getting advance notice of the conservatorship and contesting it.
Britney’s chosen lawyer was taken away from her
Adam Streisand, who’s Britney’s former attorney, appears in the documentary to explain how he was removed from her conservatorship case. He suggests that it’s better to have an independent professional as a conservator rather than a family member. That’s what he was going to advocate for for Britney.
“When I told the judge what Britney wanted,” he says, “the judge looked at me and said, ‘Mr. Streisand, I have a report that says she does not have the capacity to retain counsel and have an attorney-client relationship. So, I’m sorry but you’re not going to be able to represent her and I need to ask you to leave the courtroom.” In 2009, over a year after the conservatorship supposedly “helped” Britney, she was still trying to get her own lawyer because she didn’t think the court-appointed attorney, Sam Ingham, was advocating for her enough. Streisand explains on-screen that the conservatorship setup allows Jamie Spears the ability to object to Ingham getting paid — so there’s a natural tendency for the lawyer to want to cooperate with the conservator. Ingham resigned on July 6 and made nearly $3 million over the course of the conservatorship.
Conservatorships aren’t usually like this
On-screen, one lawyer explains that to get a conservatorship, “You have to be unable to meet your needs for food, clothing, health and shelter.” He further explains that he’s represented many people who have been under conservatorships — and none of them have ever had jobs. Britney’s ex boyfriend, former papparazzo Adnan Ghalib, further says on-screen in a voiceover, “She’s functioning. I watched her write the ‘Blackout’ album on a Starbucks napkin… I watched her sit there and put the moves together. She did all of that, and you’re telling me that her father’s going to get a conservatorship? It didn’t make sense to me.”
Jamie threatened Britney’s access to her kids
The documentary plays a voicemail that Britney left an unspecified lawyer in 2009. In it, her voice can be heard saying, “during the process of eliminating the conservatorship, my father has threatened me several times… he’ll take my children away.”
Jamie’s big pay day
During Brintey’s Las Vegas residency, which ran from 2013-2017, she was working constantly and little information about her life was public. However, during this time, Jamie earned $2.1 million from her tour revenues, in addition to a monthly salary of $16,000. He paid Britney $8,000 per month as an allowance.
“Britney vs Spears” ends with the information that Jamie formally asked to be removed from his role as conservator and requested that the conservatorship be terminated on Sept. 7.