In a surprise move to #FreeBritney supporters and observers, the makers of FX and Hulu’s Framing Britney Spears are back with a sequel to The New York Times’ Emmy-nominated documentary. Controlling Britney Spears premiered with little warning on Sept. 24, and the revealing doc shows that Spears has been under more control than even her biggest fans had suspected for the past 13 years. While Framing Britney Spears captured the media’s rampant mistreatment of the singer at the height of 2000s tabloid culture, Controlling Britney Spears focuses more in-depth on the dealings behind Spears’ controversial conservatorship, which was instated in 2008, with her father Jamie as the conservator of both her personal and estate.
Spears spoke out publicly against her conservatorship for the first time in an open court hearing on June 23, calling the conservatorship “abusive” and claiming her father was overtly controlling. During her brave testimony, she alleged that she was held in a mental health facility against her will in early 2019, wasn’t allowed to get married under the conservatorship, and is forced to wear an IUD to prevent her from getting pregnant, despite her desire to marry and have more children. Jamie has denied all of his daughter’s accusations.
Since Spears herself has spoken, others who witnessed the day-to-day dealings of her life under the conservatorship have come forward to director Samantha Stark and reporter Liz Day to share what they claim to have witnessed.
These are the most shocking revelations from Controlling Britney Spears.
1. “Security was put in a position to be prison guards, essentially”
According to Alex Vlasov, who worked with Spears’ security team Black Box Security from 2012 to 2021, Jamie allegedly had a group chat with Spears’ head of security Edan Yemini, who ran Black Box, and business manager Robin Greenhill, that apparently tracked “all of her movement,” even in Spears’ own home. “Every little request was monitored and recorded,” Vlasov claimed. “Her intimate relations were closely managed. Britney could not have someone in the privacy of her house without those three people knowing. Edan would say she’s just like a child, and like any other minor who needs their parent’s consent.” He likened the situation to a prison, “and security was put in a position to be prison guards, essentially.”
Jamie did not respond to The New York Times’ questions, but his lawyer Vivian Thoreen said all of his actions were done with the “knowledge and consent of Britney, her court-appointed attorney and/or the court” in a statement. “Jamie’s record as conservator — and the court’s approval of his actions — speak for themselves,” she wrote. “Jamie loves Britney unwaveringly and wants only the best for her. He will never stop loving or supporting his daughter.”
2. Britney Wanted To Buy Sketchers But Was Told She Didn’t Have Enough Money
Greenhill, a worker of Spears’ business management company TriStar Entertainment, allegedly had undue infuence over Spears’ life and career. Tish Yates, Spears’ former head of wardrobe from 2008 to 2018, said she had to consult Greenhill for anything related to Spears, from food to fashion choices, before going to the singer herself, despite not even knowing what her job title was or why she was present on the singer’s tours.
Yates gave an example of the conversations that Spears would have with Greenhill and her father, even over something as minuscule as dinner. “Britney would say, ‘Hey, is there any way we can have sushi for dinner?’ … I would hear Robin say, ‘You had sushi yesterday, it’s too expensive, you don’t need it again,’” she explained. “If she pushed back a little bit, they pushed harder, and then the yelling got louder. Then Jamie would come up and say, ‘No, you’re not having this.’ Then it would escalate to not having a voice.”
Yates also recalled a time that Spears saw a pair of Skechers sneakers in a store window while walking through the mall and asked someone to get them for her. Greenhill apparently denied the simple request, saying there wasn’t enough money in her allowance, and Yates decided to buy them and pass it off as a work wardrobe expense. TriStar Entertainment denied all allegations involving Greenhill. “People with no personal knowledge of the facts, and for whatever reasons, have decided to make up false stories about Ms. Spears and her representatives,” a lawyer for the company told NYT.
3. Britney’s Phone Was Allegedly Monitored, Which Might Break The Law
Greenhill allegedly came up with the idea to get an iPad and sign into the same iCloud account used on Spears’ iPhone to monitor all activity on her phone. “Their reason for monitoring was looking for bad influence, looking for potential illegal activity that might happen, but they would also monitor conversations with her friends, her mom, her lawyer Sam Ingham,” Vlasov claimed. As the documentary reminded viewers, it’s unclear whether the court is aware or has approved of any text message monitoring, which could be a violation of the law.
Spears’ phone would also be a point of contention between Spears and her father, with Jamie often taking it away when there was a disagreement. She also seemed aware that her phone may have been tracked. Vlasov showed an email that he was forwarded by Yemini written by Ingham, asking for written confirmation that only Spears herself could access her calls, voicemails, and text messages. Yemini responded that Jamie cannot access her texts or calls, which contradicted what the employee knew about how Spears’ team monitored her phone through an iPad.
4. Was A Recording Device In Britney’s Bedroom?
Vlasov said that Yemini once gave him a recording device and a USB drive and asked him to wipe out all of the contents. “I had them tell me what was on it,” he explained. “They seemed very nervous and said that it was extremely sensitive, that nobody can ever know about this, and that’s why I need to delete everything on it so there’s no record of it.” He felt uncomfortable erasing it, so instead, he kept a copy so he doesn’t unintentionally incriminate himself. The device apparently recorded over 180 hours of audio, including Spears’ interactions with her children and boyfriend. It’s unclear whether the court is aware or approved of this decision.
Yemeni declined to answer The New York Times’ questions about his firm’s work with Spears, but gave a statement through his lawyer: “Mr. Yemini and Black Box have always conducted themselves within professional, ethical and legal bounds, and they are particularly proud of their work in keeping Ms. Spears safe for many years.”
Spears’ court-appointed lawyer Mathew Rosengart declined the NYT’s request to interview Spears, but did give a statement on the employee claiming a recording device was planted her in her bedroom, and promised to “fully and aggressively investigate” these concerns. “Intercepting or monitoring Britney’s communications, especially sacrosanct attorney-client communications, represents a shameful and shocking violation of her privacy rights and civil liberties,” he said. “Placing a listening device in Britney’s bedroom would be particularly disgraceful.”
5. Britney Was Told She Couldn’t Get Married — But She Likely Could Have
In a 2014 court transcript obtained by The New York Times, Spears’ former court-appointed lawyer Ingham told Reva G. Goetz, the judge on her case at the time, that Spears “expressed to me a desire to marry and have children,” and she believed the conservatorship prevented her from doing so. “I don’t recall that we made any orders about the right to marry, but you may not want to tell her that,” Goetz reportedly told Ingham, who responded, “Somehow that did not come up in the conversation.”
This insinuates that Spears was not aware of or directly lied to about her right to get married under the conservatorship. Goetz declined to answer NYT’s questions, but warned “not to draw any conclusions or inference from or be swayed by any one hearing” in a statement. Judge Goetz later retired and was replaced by the case’s current judge, Brenda Penny.
6. Britney Told Others She Was Sent To A Mental Health Facility Involuntarily
The New York Times obtained text messages that Spears reportedly sent to friends after she was sent to a mental health facility in early 2019. “My own lawyer doesn’t even work for me,” she reportedly texted a friend, referring to Ingham. According to reporter Liz Day, Spears told a lawyer that she was considering hiring to pretend to be a plumber in order to gain access to her house and speak with her in person.
As fans know, Ingham stepped down after Spears told the court that she was never allowed to hire her own legal council on June 23. At her next hearing on July 14, Spears was finally granted permission to hire her own lawyer, retaining Rosengart as her attorney.
The next conservatorship court hearing is scheduled for Sept. 29. Spears could be theoretically freed from her conservatorship as soon as next week.