Netflix released its addition to the catalog of documentaries about Britney Spears’ 13-year battle against her conservatorship. Directed by Erin Lee Carr, Britney vs. Spears unearths the control that her father Jamie Spears held over Britney throughout the past decade, along with various unpublicized attempts by Britney herself in her fight for freedom.
The documentary was initially planned to be a piece about the media’s portrayal of Britney over the years, but “the story was also about power and control,” Carr explains in the film’s opening. “Full of conspiracy and rumors. And no one would talk. Until they did.”
Over the course of 90 minutes, Carr and journalist Jenny Eliscu investigate private letters, confidential medical documents and reports, text messages, and more in an attempt to uncover the truth. Below are five of the biggest bombshells from the lesser-known aspects of Britney’s battle against her conservatorship.
Britney’s relationship with Adnan Ghalib.
As Britney continued to be hounded by intense tabloid drama and hungry press, she started dating paparazzo Adnan Ghalib in late 2007 near the beginning of her conservatorship. Speaking about their volatile romance, Ghalib recounted nights where Britney would take prescription Adderall and stay up for nights on end.
“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,” he said. “These are the things that become volatile and deadly weapons when you’re going through a child custody case.”
After Britney’s conservatorship was granted in 2008, Ghalib recalled the devastating moment of being forced to take Britney home to her father, four security guards, and two police officers waiting for them.
“I’m trying to explain to her, ‘He is your conservator. Without his permission, because he is you, I’ve kidnapped you.’ And it’s that real,” he said about her breakdown. “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.’”
Court documents list dementia as a reason for the conservatorship.
Court documents from the conservatorship listed “orders related to dementia” as a bizarre component of Britney’s health conditions. An anonymous source reached out to the filmmakers and offered thousands of confidential documents and emails related to the arrangement, including a severe medical report from 2008 that stated how the singer “lacks the capacity to understand or manage her financial affairs without being subject to undue influence.”
The filmmakers noted that it was highly unusual for “dementia” to be listed as a reason for a conservatorship when Britney was only in her 20s. “At the same time this report was being written, Britney was already back to work,” Eliscu pointed out. “She was on the set of How I Met Your Mother. The episode was out within two months of the conservatorship starting. How is someone who was that ill well enough to go to work?”
Sam Lutfi denies drugging Britney.
During Britney’s divorce from Kevin Federline, Sam Lutfi says he served as a manager, friend, and confidant during a time where she couldn’t rely on her family. Lutfi recounted an instance where he urged her to keep her family close during such a difficult time, to which Britney told him, “My relationship is not like your relationship with your family.”
Throughout the initial creation of the conservatorship, Jamie and Lynne Spears alleged that Lutfi was a danger to Britney as he was drugging the singer. This claim was later used in court to waive the five days’ notice to contest the arrangement.
“That is something that I don’t think has really been portrayed correctly is the level of crisis at the moment the conservatorship began,” said Lorilee Cracker, the biographer of Britney’s mother Lynne Spears. “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 denied these claims, stating that he believed he was utilized as the perfect scapegoat to prevent Britney from contesting the conservatorship. “You have a hundred blood tests and drug tests,” he said. “The entire time I was with her, she passed every single one of them. Which is why the police never came to my door. No one ever came to my door. 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.”
Britney’s medication was increased on work days.
Documents also revealed that Britney’s $15 million deal to be a judge on The X Factor was putting “undue pressure” on the singer. Despite medical evaluations, her manager Larry Rudolph believed withdrawing Britney would be just as bad. The medical team ultimately approved Britney staying on board with strict guidelines, one of them being that her former fiancé Jason Trawick’s presence on set was mandatory.
The confidential medical document also revealed Britney’s medication was increased on days she had to work, with different dosages for work and non-work days. “On the one hand, Jamie and others on the team valued the benefits of stimulants for Britney’s performance,” the document read. “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.”
Britney had to ask for permission to do simple tasks.
One medical evaluation of Trawick revealed that he had to go through a number of inconveniences due to the conservatorship, including simple tasks for which Britney had to ask for permission from the conservatorship. “For example, they wanted to drive within a gated community on a golf cart, but have to ask permission each time they want to go out to a local hamburger joint,” the report stated. “They have to call for permission and wait 20 minutes or more for an answer. If Britney needs a few hundred dollars to buy books for her kids, she has to ask and wait a few days for an answer.”
This report was right after Britney’s huge Femme Fatale tour in 2011 when Britney was becoming increasingly concerned about the control Jamie had over her. “Britney began to complain about Jamie’s drinking,” the document continued. “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.”
Britney vs. Spears is now streaming on Netflix.
From L’Officiel USA