Ahead of Britney Spears’ latest court hearing about her conservatorship, a documentary sheds more light on her attempts to end the controversial legal arrangement.
A new Netflix documentary has added more insight and eye-opening accusations about the conservatorship involving Britney Spears and her father ahead of an important court hearing on Wednesday about potentially dissolving the controversial legal arrangement.
“Britney Vs Spears” follows a pair of New York Times documentaries on Hulu that aim to show some of the behind-the-scenes machinations and alleged restrictions of the conservatorship overseen by her father, Jamie Spears. Earlier this month, Jamie Spears filed a petition to end the conservatorship, which will be the subject of Wednesday's hearing.
With the potential end of the 13-year conservatorship looming, here is a look at the latest revelations from “Britney Vs Spears.” The documentary features filmmaker Erin Lee Carr and journalist Jenny Eliscu, who got to know Spears, 39, while covering her for Rolling Stone, examining the case and speaking with former confidants of Spears.
Former manager Sam Lutfi denies secretly drugging Spears
Carr and Eliscu highlight documents in which Lutfi, who says he was her manager, is blamed as a negative influence on Spears and a reason the conservatorship needed to be instated. Eliscu and Carr read from a court filing saying that Spears was entitled to five days’ notice in case she wanted to contest the conservatorship or find a lawyer. However, she was denied that notice due to Lutfi, according to the documents.
“The only reason given for depriving Britney of five days’ notice is that Sam Lutfi is dangerous and needs to be kept away,” Eliscu reads.
Lorilee Craker, who helped Britney’s mother, Lynne Spears, write her memoir “Through the Storm,” alleges in the documentary that Lutfi was drugging Britney at the time.
“That is something that I don’t think has really been portrayed correctly is the level of crisis at the moment the conservatorship began,” Craker said. “They felt they had to do it to protect Britney from Sam. He was crushing drugs and putting them in her food and bragging about it.”
Lutfi denies those allegations in the documentary.
“We have 100 drug tests and blood tests the entire time I was with her, and she passed every single one of them,” he said. “Which is why the police never came to my door. No one ever called the police. 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.”
Lutfi said he was used as an excuse to start the conservatorship without sufficiently notifying Spears about her rights.
“I was the perfect scapegoat,” he said. “I was new. They didn’t know who I was. I was just an expendable guy.“A five-day notice means she would have been notified that this was going to happen, and she would’ve had the right to contest to it. She would have obviously contested to it, immediately, and they knew that and everyone knew that. They had to do everything possible to prevent that from happening.”
Britney wrote a letter in response to a People magazine cover story on ex-husband Kevin Federline
Andrew Gallery, a cinematographer who worked with Spears on the MTV special “For the Record,” describes how she was upset about a 2008 cover story in People magazine in which Federline gives his side of the story about their breakup.
Gallery said she gave him a hand-written note that she wanted him to read on television to rebut some of the claims Federline made in the story.
“There was stuff she didn’t agree with, and she wanted to respond to it,” Gallery said.
“There were a lot of times she would ask me for help, whether it was questions about legal issues, or stuff about conservatorships,” he continued. “I would usually try and deflect these things because if I didn’t have an answer, I didn’t want to give her the wrong information. But I know that there were times that she did want to speak out and address things, and wasn’t really able to.”
He never ended up reading the letter on television, but did keep a copy of it that he shared in the documentary.
“What happened to Britney was a year ago and people need to get with the times,” the letter reads. “And as for Kevin saying Britney divorced him, she was forced to by her lawyers b/c she went to visit him in NY and he wouldn’t see her and the children, and her lawyers said if she doesn’t divorce him he’s going to do it himself. So Kevin trying to play the innocent victim is hardly irevalent [sic]. He left her and the babies. Her going on the mend partying two years ago has nothing to do w/the situation now. She is a completely different person and most of their fighting was done back then b/c of his problem waking and baking to marijuana at 5:00 in the morning.
"No one talks about these things because no one knows the truth. She was lied to and set up. Her children were taken away and she did spin out of control which any mother would in those circumstances. Now this year Britney has been silenced to speak out about anything that’s really going on. The people controlling her life have made 3 million dollars this year. She would love for new eyes to see her situation, but if she brings it up she’s constantly threatened that the conservators will take her kids away. So how long does this go on for. As long as the people are getting paid and she has no rights, it could go on for awhile but it doesn’t make it right at all.”
Gallery said he received a phone call at the time from Spears’ lawyers in the conservatorship saying “it would be bad” if the letter was made public.
“Again, I always just felt bad for her,” he said. “I felt bad that this was her reality and her world where she gave me a letter and then all of a sudden this huge fire alarm goes off. It’s like crazy. All she wanted to do was respond to an article.”
He has not spoken to Spears since the situation with the letter.
A Rolling Stone reporter tries to get her a new attorney
Eliscu, who was writing for Rolling Stone at the time, described how she tried to help Spears get a new lawyer in 2009 to represent her in the conservatorship. She shows a court document claiming Spears wanted new representation.
“Spears has expressed in lack of confidence in her court-appointed attorney Samuel Ingham, III,” the document reads. “Mr. Ingham has great credentials, as counsel of record in this matter, but Ms. Spears is of the opinion that he is not advocating adequately on her behalf particularly in light of the severe restrictions placed upon her.”
Eliscu had concerns about crossing the line as a journalist to become an active participant in Spears’ story.
“At that point I had known Britney Spears for a decade almost, and so I cared about her in a human way that there was no denying it at that point that I could be more of more use as a good Samaritan almost than as another journalist trying to cover this story,” Eliscu said.
Eliscu said Lutfi and Spears’ boyfriend at the time, Adnan Ghalib, reached out to her with a plan. Eliscu would meet Spears in a bathroom at the Montage Beverly Hills and hand her documents to sign that would request a new lawyer to represent her in the conservatorship.
Eliscu saw Spears in the pool at the hotel and then met her in the bathroom, going into a stall and passing the papers to Spears in the next stall.
“She just sort of looked at me and said, ‘Thank you,’ and I said, ‘I’ll see you again,‘” Eliscu said while wiping away tears.
“She definitely seemed scared. It was hard to tell because I was so scared, but she was appreciative, which was like such classic kind of her vibe to be in that moment to be scared but to also be grateful.”
Eliscu said she found out a week later that the attempt had not worked.
“It had been ruled that she lacked capacity to choose her own lawyer, and that they had cast enough doubt on to whether that was her signature,” she said. “I never heard anything of it again. No one ever talked about it again. Still, no one talks about the fact that there was another attempt to get a lawyer that somehow didn’t work out.”
Ingham claimed in court documents that Spears had called him and said she met with Eliscu and signed documents, but that she was satisfied with him as her lawyer and did not want to make a change.
The alleged drinking habit of Jamie Spears caused “significant tensions” during Britney’s 2011 world tour
Documents uncovered by Carr and Eliscu state that the relationship between Spears and her father had become tense during her Femme Fatale Tour 10 years ago.
“Britney began to complain about Jamie’s drinking,” Carr reads from the document. “She is especially adamant that Jamie be punished. This seems to be a lightning rod for all her complaints about the conservatorship itself. In a simple way she feels that if she is drug tested, so should he be. And if she were to suffer a great penalty like losing her kids if she tested positive, he should suffer an equally great penalty for his drinking.”
The documents also indicate Britney wanted to end the conservatorship as far back as a decade ago.
“Britney wants to come off the conservatorship,” Carr reads from the document. “At times she seems to understand the benefits of the conservatorship. At other times, she indicates she would go along with the conservatorship of the estate. But mostly she wants to end the conservatorship of the person.”
Carr and Eliscu said that the attorney for Jamie Spears claimed over the years that if it was really that bad, Britney would have asked the conservatorship to be terminated, but they claim she never did.
“But we have here in evidence that she wanted out of the conservatorship, that she was vocalizing that need, and that it was ignored,” Carr said.
Ex-fiance Jason Trawick believed the conservatorship was “too restrictive”
Trawick, who was Spears’ agent, began dating her in 2009 and got engaged to her in 2011. A document of an interview between Trawick and a doctor with the conservatorship describes his feelings toward the arrangement.
“Eventually Britney will have to learn to live without a conservator,” Carr and Eliscu take turns reading. “He feels that the present arrangement is too constrictive.”
Trawick says in the document that the constrictive arrangement included having to ask for permission to drive a golf cart in a gated community, having to call for permission and wait 20 minutes whenever they wanted to go to a local burger place, and Britney having to request a few hundred dollars for books for her children and then wait “a few days” for an answer.
Trawick was was made her co-conservator with Jamie Spears after they got engaged in 2011, but he was then removed after the two broke up less than a year later.
Britney’s medication was allegedly increased on days she had to perform
A part of the documentary featuring documents referring to Spears’ $15 million deal to be a judge on the reality show X-Factor says it put “undue pressure” on the pop star.
Carr and Eliscu quote a document saying that dosages of Spears’ medication were increased on work days compared to non-work days.
“On the one hand, Jamie and others on the team valued the benefits of stimulants for Britney’s performance,” the document reads. “This had been the case for both of her tours and for her participation on X-Factor. By the same token Jamie wanted Britney not to take stimulants. This contradiction has not been resolved.”
Ex-boyfriend alleged Spears stayed up for multiple days in a row on prescription drugs
Ghalib was dating Spears when the conservatorship began in 2008 and alleged she would go days without sleeping.
“There were nights where she was up and I had to stay up with her,” he said. “It’s hard to stay up for three days. It’s hard but you have that fear, and it’s a very real fear, that if anything happens to her, they’re just going to blame you. It’s just so much easier to blame you. She was taking Adderall. These are the things that become volatile and deadly weapons when you’re going through a child custody case.”
He alleged the two would be out together and Jamie Spears would call him and say they had to return home immediately. He recalled returning to her home to see Jamie and a group of security guards and a pair of police officers at the gate.
“They’re standing there and she freaks out. ’What are they doing here? Why are they here? Why is my father at my house? Who are these people? Why are the cops here?’” he said. “And she looks at me. I’m supposed to be the one that protects her. I’m trying to calm her down, and I cannot. I’m trying to explain to her, ‘He is your conservator. Without his permission, I’ve kidnapped you.’
"And it’s that real. She just looks. She doesn’t talk anymore. She’s completely silent. You know, they escort her to the house. That’s when the realization was, ’OK, I don’t think things are going to be the same anymore.’”
With all the documentaries about her being released, Spears responded on Instagram Monday about the various revelations and allegations they contain.
"It's really crazy guys ... I watched a little bit of the last documentary and I must say I scratched my head a couple of times 🙄🤷🏼♀️ !!!" she wrote. "I really try to disassociate myself from the drama !!! Number one ... that's the past !!! Number two ... can the dialogue get any classier 🤷🏼♀️🤓😭 ??? Number three ... wow they used the most beautiful footage of me in the world 😳 !!! What can I say .. the EFFORT on their part 👏🏼🙄 !!!"