Roses are red, violets are blue, I'm going to swear, and I am, too. It's January 20th, 2008. It's been three weeks since Britney got out of the hospital after her first 51 50 psychiatric hold. Now she's hanging out at her new boyfriend's house. His name is Adnan Gleib. He's this English guy with spiky hair and this goatee thing on his chin. Actually, it's it's not even really a goatee. It's like this in stripe of hair that runs from the bottom of his lip down his chin.
I'm not really sure what that's about. I think it's called style. Ever heard of it?
OK, I'll look that up later.
Anyway, they started dating a month ago, but they've known each other for a while because get this, Adnan is a paparazzo. He's one of the guys who used to follow Britney everywhere. Wait, what? Explain, please.
Yeah, it does seem odd. One magazine will actually call it Stockholm Syndrome. I'm going to quote here. They say she has a self created relationship with the paparazzi and that she has been chased for so long that she has come to not only accept them, but need them in her life. They say the paps helped change her tires, pump her gas and give her directions when she's lost. And get this, she seems to be basking in the attention and she seems to be trapped.
OK, I'm still hung up on the self created relationship. Part of that quote that implies she had a choice in whether she was followed around by dozens of cameramen. Yeah, I know.
I thought about that. I think every celebrity has to figure out what kind of relationship they're going to have with the tabloids. I mean, they're they're in your face all the time. And Britney really tried everything just to get some peace, crying, begging them to go away, getting angry, maybe trying to be friends was another way to deal with them. Either way, now she's happy with Adnan. In fact, the week after she got out of the hospital, he took a day trip to Mexico.
Britney wore a bright pink wig as a disguise to throw the police off the trail. Yeah, because nothing says, don't look at me like a bright pink wig.
I know it definitely doesn't work, but she's excited about the new relationship. And lately she's been spending a lot of time with him.
So much time, apparently, she's even developed a weird British accent trying to imagine it, don't you?
But I would imagine he's one of the few people who understands what she's going through on a daily basis.
Anyway, back to January twenty eight, Britney and Adnan are hanging out at his house when Sam Lutfi comes to pick her up. Sam, if you remember, is her Svengali slash manager. Britney climbs into his car and right away, Sam picks a fight. He doesn't like how much time she's spending with Adnan and away from Sam when they're two hundred yards from her gated community. Britney's had enough. She tells Sam to stop the car and she jumps out and tells him to leave now.
But Sam refuses and then Britney starts sobbing. And of course, the paparazzi who are always lurking, get the whole thing on film. And that's when someone decides it's a good time to send a text to Len, Britney's mom. It says something like get over to Britney's house right away. She and Sam Lutfi are having a fight. Lynn hasn't trusted Sam since day one. She thinks he's trying to control Brad, so she decides to take action.
And the first call she makes is to Jamie, her ex. They've been divorced for a few years, but they keep in touch, especially when it comes to Britney. Now, Jamie and Britney, on the other hand, aren't exactly on the best of terms. He and her manager pushed her into rehab. And when she fired her manager, Jamie took his side. Britney tried to write him out of her life, but he's still hovering around trying to get involved.
But here's the thing about Jamie. He's kind of a hothead and he usually thinks he knows what's best. When he gets the call from Lynn, he's like, what do you need me to do? Lynn tells him she's going to get a friend to drive her over to Britney's and Jamie should meet them at the gate. They'll figure out what's going on when they get there.
And what happens when they get there will set off a chain of events that'll end with, well, you'll just have to listen to the end to find out.
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From London. I'm Brooke Saffron. And I'm Trisha Skidmore Williams, and this is Even The Rich on our last episode. Britney Spears finally got her fairytale wedding and her dream home, only to watch it all fall apart. Now she's headed for a breakdown with no idea who she can trust. She's the biggest pop star in the world, but somehow she's all alone. Will she find her way out of this mess or is this the end of Britney Spears?
This is episode three, Stronger Show.
OK, so back to our story. Lynn is on her way to Britney's house after hearing she and Sam Lutfi are in some giant fight. Now, if you remember, Britney lives at a place called the summit, which is a gated community in Beverly Hills.
And in front of the gate is a guard station. When Lynn pulls up and explains she's there to see her daughter. The guard looks at his computer and he's like, sorry, no can do. You're not on the list. But Lynn's not about to let some list stop her.
She's like, pick up the phone and call her house. Now, that's about when Jamie pulls up behind her in his own car. And here's where it turns into this weird spy heist movie. Lynn sees him in the rearview mirror and calls on her cell phone. She says, if I get past this guard, you just come in right behind me. Wait. She whispered it while in the movie version she does when they pull up in front of the house.
Sam Lutfi, as Jamie jumps out of his car and runs over all up in Sam's face, he says her family is here. You have to go now. But Sam isn't interested in leaving. Instead, he turns and walks into the house. Jamie's right behind him saying stuff like, Where's my daughter? You better not be hurting her. Sam just ignores him until he's had enough and calls over one of Britney's bodyguards and has Jamie thrown out.
Of course, Jamie is furious, but he has no choice. Then Sam turns to Lynn and says, You have to do whatever I tell you to do. I'm the one who spends 24/7 with your daughter. If you don't listen to me, I'm going to make your name shit in the papers. Lynn ignores him. Her focus is Britney, who isn't doing well. When she follows Bret into a room, she starts changing her clothes and then changes them again.
And then when she's tired of that, she starts changing her dog's clothes.
I mean, there are worse ways to burn off stress.
Not if you're that poor dog. When Lynn finally gets her to talk, Britney's voice sounds like a little girl's Lindsay like WTF? Sam tells Lynn Britney's being drugged. Her doctor wants to get her into a sleep induced coma so they can heal her brain. According to what Lynn will later say, she suspected Sam was grinding up pills and putting them in her food. Either way, something seems wrong with Britney.
Then Sam says to Lynn, The quicker you learn that I control everything, the better, he tells her. He controls Britney's attorneys and the security guards at the gate. He says they don't listen to Britney. They listen to me. Britney will kill herself without me. He says if you try to get rid of me, she'll be dead and I'll piss on her grave.
This is all according to a restraining order. The Spears will later file. God, this is painful. Isn't this a comedy podcast? Trust me, there will be plenty for listeners to laugh at.
Like our singing. Just give a time.
Britney spends the whole night pacing around the house asking about her kids while Lin lies awake wondering what to do. What Lin doesn't know is that there's more texting going on. Remember the friend who drove her to Britney's?
Yeah, the getaway car in the movie. Well, when that friend left, she texted Jamie Spears and told him everything that happened. Now, Jamie's super P.A. in the early morning, Jamie sneaks past the guard into Britney's house. When he finds Sam, he punches him in the solar plexus of Sam, runs into the game room and locks the door and hides and nurses his wounds. He's fine, but Jamie's not. He's done watching other people try to control his daughter's life.
The next day, Lynn goes home, but maybe she should have stayed because now she can't get a hold of Britney. And then on January 30th, Sam calls her and invites her back to the house. But it's not just a social visit.
He says he has it on good authority that someone's trying to commit Britney to the psych ward. Again, Lynn is now in a panic. How could they just take her like that? She has to warn Britney. She speeds over to her house to try and convince her to leave before that happens. But Britney won't budge.
And then around midnight, 20 cops storm the house and well, you know how that ends. Britney is fifty one fifty. For the second time in a month, she's taken to UCLA against her will and placed in another psychiatric ward. Do we know who called the police? Britney's doctor.
But someone had to tip him off to make the call. We just don't know who.
What we do know is that someone may be the same person. Contacted the FAA with a request to clear the airspace between Britney's house and the hospital. Probably so news helicopters couldn't document the whole thing. But you can't just call up the FAA on a whim. They need time to make something like that happen, which seems like a pretty clear sign that the plan to hospitalize Bret was in the works for a while. And here's another thing we know the same day that Britney is forced into the hospital, her dad, Jamie, files a petition with the courts to temporarily become her conservator.
OK, so I think we should take a moment here and talk about what 51 50 means exactly. We know it's a law that allows a hospital to hold someone for 72 hours against their will. Well, we don't know is what happens in that 72 hours. So I looked it up and let me tell you, it wasn't easy to find. I finally dug up an article on Quora where a guy was nice enough to share what happened to him.
It's not some like Nurse Ratched scenario, but I imagine it's still pretty scary. Usually they take you into the emergency room and sometimes you're handcuffed. And then at some point once you're in and can't escape, they remove the restraints. Then someone, the EMT or the police explains to the E.R. why you're in there that you're suicidal or homicidal or whatever it may be. And then you confer with doctors and nurses about meds. The doctors are, of course, trying to help you.
I mean, they're following the law, too. But most of your time is spent in a ward with other patients with nothing to do but paced the halls and watch TV. The guy said that after a while it feels like your brain is going to melt. And I imagine Britney was worried about her kids. Like when would she be able to see them again?
So she does her best to cooperate. But if she wasn't losing it before she is now, she cries and shouts and talks about how much she misses her kids and how unfair this is. It does seem unfair.
I mean, but is it possible she really did have a breakdown? I know.
I think that's a question a lot of people have, like, is Britney bipolar or was she on meds and something was wrong or could this happen to almost anyone who went through what she did?
But the doctors label her good. It means gravely disabled. It's a designation for people who are, quote, unfit to take care of basic needs, such as the acquisition of food, clothing or shelter. And this diagnosis opens a door for Jamie Spears to walk in. It's Monday morning, February 4th, 2008, four days since Britney Spears was taken into the hospital. A 72 hour mandatory hold has come and gone and she's still there. Her psychiatrist has the right to extend the state of 14 days and he took it.
Meanwhile, across town, Jamie Spears is inside a courtroom. He wears a tan sport coat and a red tie, and he's got his typical scowl on his face. Lindsay there, too. And so is Jamie's new lawyer. His name is Andrew Wallet, and he's here to help Jamie get control of Britney's estate. But here's the weird thing. While it's never dealt with a celebrity conservatorship before, he's just a small time estate attorney. Nothing I've read about him suggests he has any experience working on an estate as big as Britney's.
In fact, no one really knows how Jamie even found him. On the other side of the courtroom as a lawyer, Adam Streisand, Britney managed to hire him from the hospital and send him to court on her behalf. And he's an actual trusts and a state attorney. He's known for his work with high profile client conservatorships, including Michael Jackson, Marilyn Monroe and Hugh Hefner. Adam Streisand tells the court that Britney doesn't want her dad to be her conservator.
He says, and this is a direct quote. She has expressed to me very strongly that her father not be the conservator. There has been an estrangement for quite some time with him as conservator. This is causing her more agitation and more distress. Jamie and wallet hit back there like Britney's Ghedi. She can't take care of her basic needs. She doesn't even have the capacity to understand these proceedings or to hire a lawyer to represent her.
There's some more legal speak and back and forth, and then finally, it's up to the judge to decide whether or not Streisand can represent Britney. Oh, my God, nailbiter. Tell me about it. The judge thinks it over and then she hands down her verdict. Streisand's off the case.
Britney now has no lawyer. And the judge has effectively tied her hands from ever having one because she's too incapacitated. Either hire people or understand any of this. This feels really wrong. I know. And think about what's at stake here.
Britney's worth hundreds of millions of dollars with more anticipated to come in royalties from records, licensing deals and an almost billion dollar perfume line with no one to represent Britney's interests. It falls to her conservator, Jamie Spears. Yep, he's granted an extension through the 14th of February or another ten days, which you'd think isn't that long. Right. Maybe Britney can figure out a new plan, petition the court something. But as it turns out, there's a lot you can do in a short period of time.
For the next 10 days, Jamie will have control over everything Britney does, who she sees, where she goes, what she does, who she talks to, and what to do with the money.
He'll share that honor with Andrew Wallet, who is appointed as co conservator.
The first thing Jamie does is change the locks on Britney's house. Then he hires a new team of security guards. Meanwhile, Lynn springs into action, too. She takes out a restraining order on Brett's behalf against Sam.
She alleges all sorts of damning stuff like that. Sam used to hide her cell phone charger so her phone would die and disable her car so she couldn't go anywhere. Lynn even says that Sam once hid Britney's dog from her. OK, I'm not sure how to feel about any of this. I mean, it seems like Sam was a pretty shifty guy, but in some weird way, did he really have Britney's interests at heart and as Jamie have her best interests at heart?
And why is Lynn getting involved in this?
Yeah, believe me, I have the same questions. I'm not sure there's any way to know for sure. But I will say Sam will come back, but we'll get to that.
Britney's finally released on February 7th, a week after entering the hospital. Her boyfriend, Adnan, picks her up. Wait, did Jamie approve or how does that work? Yeah, it's a little fuzzy to me. Anyway, when Britney gets out, she's wearing giant sunglasses and a fedora. And, of course, the paps are out in force. They wait at the hospital entrance, then snap pictures as she gets in the car. Then they follow closely behind and keep snapping.
As she walks into the Beverly Hills Hotel there, Brittany meets with her business manager, Howard Grossman, and then she and Adnan in the whole paparazzi entourage get back in the car and go over to Adam Streisand's office.
He was the lawyer who was kicked off the case. We don't know exactly what happened in that meeting, but we do know the outcome.
He can't represent her.
No one can represent her. Wow. The only way they get help is to hire a lawyer, but she legally can't hire a lawyer.
It's a catch 22.
Well, there's another way she could get a doctor to evaluate her mental state and declare she's not a mental health risk, but she can't choose the doctor herself either. Jamie controls that, too. And of course, one would assume any doctor he hires is going to see things his way.
Long story short, Britney is alone and swinging in the wind.
This is all so fucked. Yeah, but Jamie only has control until February 14th, Valentine's Day. Maybe she'll get a new judge. But no. Jamie convinces the court to extend the conservatorship through the end of the year.
But Britney isn't ready to give up. She tries to hire another lawyer on the sly. The lawyer knows it's a long shot, but he's willing to try. On Monday, February 26th, he goes up against Jamie in court on Britney's behalf. He tells the judge Jamie moved into Britney's house and took control of all her assets, that he's keeping her confined. He says the last time he talked to Britney, someone wrestled the phone away from her. And the judge says.
I can't take this anymore. Imagine if you're Britney, the judge says Britney's not mentally fit to hire her own lawyer, so that's the end of him. Jamie, to Britney's zero.
Now, here's where things get weird. Britney has essentially been declared incompetent to pretty much do anything when it comes to her own life. She can't have legal representation, which is, you know, a pretty fundamental right. She can't decide who she sees or where she goes. It's like she's not allowed to make any decision at all. So what does Jamie and team decide to do? Hire back Britney's old manager, Larry Rudolph, and have her make a new record?
In May 2008, Rudolph set up a meeting with Jive Records, and Britney gets busy choosing songs for her next album. And back on the hamster wheel we go. That's exactly how Britney feels. To be fair, she's happy to be making music again. But under the conservatorship, she can't do anything else. She can't go out or hang with her friends. All she can do is work. She'll later say her life feels like Groundhog Day. She says even in jail, you get out at some point.
Can't you just say, no, I won't do it? I guess she could.
I mean, you can't force someone to make a record, right? But I think Britney really loves what she does. She likes performing and singing. Plus, she's got like one hundred and seventy people on payroll. She's paying child support, her ex, plus her parents who don't really work. Maybe she feels responsible for them. Or maybe it's the fact she has a contractual obligation. If she doesn't make another album for Jive, she could end up one hundred million dollars in the hole.
Whatever the reason, she does it. She records a new album. It's slated to come out in November. But first, she's got another music event on the horizon. She gets an invitation to attend the MTV Video Music Awards. Her video for a Piece of Me, a song on her last album, has been nominated for three awards.
Oh, my God, I love that song.
I'm Mrs. Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous. You want a piece of me? I'm Mrs.. Oh, my God. That Britney's shameless. You want a piece of me so good. And I never realized that the lyrics are all about everything she's been going through. Yeah, totally. So remember the last time she was at the VMAs? She stumbled through her performance and was embarrassed on national TV. Yeah, well, this time when Britney arrives at the event, it's a different story.
She's relaxed and she looks amazing in a silver Versace shift dress.
Even if she doesn't win anything, just attending and looking like she does all calm, cool and collected is a win in and of itself. And then they start announcing the winners.
And the winner for best female video is Britney Spears.
And the winner for best pop video is Britney Spears. And the winner is Britney Spears news. It's a Britney clean sweep. And when she gets up to give her acceptance speech, you can almost feel the audience breathe a collective sigh of relief.
Wow. Thank you. I'm in shock right now. I was not expecting this. This is such an honor to have this award right now. And I just want to dedicate this to all of my amazing fans out there for all their support. Thank you. This is dedicated to you.
So I feel like now that she just won like a million VMAs, she should be able to petition a judge to end the conservatorship. I mean, clearly, she's not gravely disabled. Yeah, you'd think so. And actually, right around the time of the VMAs, Britney gets a piece of really good news. A judge has revised Britney and Kevin's custody agreement. Brit's now going to get her kids fifty percent of the time. Oh, hell, yeah.
Yeah. Which is why what happens next is so aggravating. One month after the VMAs, Jamie gets the court to make the conservatorship permanent.
Now he has complete control over Britney's life indefinitely.
One tabloid runs a story with the headline Britney's Going to be Daddy's Little Girl. Forever morose, but Britney's not about to stop fighting.
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I've tried. I've showed up and they're like, you have to leave. Like, you're not like, get over it now. Stop doing this. So now I just look forward to literally stuffing my face until I can't move with my family.
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That's butcher box dotcom slash rich. Hey, friends, Brooke, here, I want to pop in and quickly talk to you about our newest sponsor, Lamp's. Plus, I've been spending way more time at home, just like you guys. And I'm really having this craving to make it warmer and homier. And Lamp's Plus is helping me do that. Lamp's Plus is the nation's largest lighting retailer. They have decades of experience as a family owned business that wants to help you love your space lamps, plus carries the most top trusted brands like Schoenbeck.
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She picks up her whip, the finishing touch to her ringmaster costume. Tonight is the kickoff of her new tour for her sixth album, Circus, and she's nervous as hell. A year ago, she was in a psych ward. It's been two years since she's toured, but now she's ready to prove she's back. And what better place to make her comeback than her home state of Louisiana? Out front, the crowd is going wild, yelling, Britney, Britney, Britney.
Though she's performed on stage a million times before this time is different. This has to go well. It has to be perfect.
Britney's got a lot riding on it to get to this moment has been an uphill climb filled with obstacles.
First, her father, Jamie, and her manager laid down the law. Any employee who wants to tour with Britney has to sign a contract that they won't bring drugs or alcohol anywhere near Britney. But not everyone wants to sign, like her trusted choreographer who says no thanks and she has to start over again with someone new. Then she and her boyfriend, Adnan, breakup. She discovers text messages on his phone to some other woman and loses it. It seems like every time she decides to trust someone, they let her down.
And then there's the overhanging doubt on whether she can do this at all. Promoters aren't sure it's worth the risk. After all, they all saw her breakdown in the tabloid press like everyone else. So, yeah, Britney's got a lot on the line. She gathers her dancers in a circle around her and they all grab hands. Britney closes her eyes and in a sugary sweet boy says, Dear Lord, please bless this show.
Wait, hang on a second, OK? It just occurred to me I thought she was deemed gravely disabled. What the hell is she doing on tour? Yeah, other people are wondering that, too.
But her dad and Andrew Wallet, her co conservator, are calling the shots and I assume they're eager to capitalize on the album's success. It's already on its way to selling half a million records. The first single womanizer is on its way to number one. No song in history has ever climbed that quickly.
Womanizer, womanizer. Well, you're a womanizer. Oh, I love that song. Yeah. Another good one.
It is. They're all good. And now it's showtime. The stage erupts in flames like a full on fire. Her song Circus starts out. It starts out with a catchy snare drum beat. And here comes Britney floating down from the rafters in a gilded cage. She's singing. There's only two types of people in the world, the ones that entertain and the ones that have so little baby. I'ma put on a show and go, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa.
When did Britney get on this podcast?
I know I've got a lot of free time. Holy shit. Well, Britney's back, baby. And much like our listeners right now, the crowd goes wild.
The show is 90 minutes long and jam packed with Cirque de Soleil type action.
There's acrobats, trapeze artists, martial artists. And at the center of all of it is Britney. Each song is like its own set piece during Get Naked, she poses inside of a gigantic picture frame while all the dancers you went up for a piece of me.
She dances on top of a cage and there are like a dozen costume changes.
When the show's over, the crowd goes bonkers, but the reviews are mixed. Everyone acknowledges it's not a trainwreck, some predicted. Yet it's not quite the victory march of a Hollywood movie. One British reviewer said with a yawn that the assorted clowns, dwarves and acrobats made for a repetitious sub. Barnham Gerberry. OK, I don't know what that means. Yeah, me either. But don't the Brits have a way with a phrase? Totally. The important thing is that fans love it and Circus is on track to be one of the highest grossing tours of the decade.
But here's the thing. Britney can't touch any of the money. Her father in the lawyer wallet control her estate. This conservative stuff is baffling to me. I mean, how can the courts decide a 27 year old woman is so gravely disabled that she needs her father to run her life, yet she's fit enough to do a world tour but not reap any of the profits? Well, the money doesn't go to Jamie.
It goes to her estate, but he's in charge of the estate.
Yeah, the contradictions are baffling, especially for Britney. This is the tour that was supposed to set her free and prove to the world she was fine. Instead, it feels like she's still trapped in a gilded cage.
See how I did that? Oh, you're so clever.
Here she is talking about what it feels like in a documentary she made for MTV to promote her tour.
If I wasn't under the restraints that I'm under right now, you know, with all the lawyers and doctors and people analyzing me every. And all that kind of stuff, like if that wasn't there, I'd feel so liberated and feel like myself, I'm kind of stuck in this place and it's like, how do you deal, you know, and just cope? And that's what I do. I just cope with it every day.
Then she tells the interviewer she tries not to think about the future at all, which is like you can't really go there in a complete state of happiness because you're scared that it's going to be taken away, you know, so it's better just not to feel anything at all. And. To have hope and feel the other way, she's surrounded by people, but it must feel like she's so alone. I know.
Which is why Britney tried reaching out to an old friend. Let me guess. Sam Lutfi.
Ding, ding, ding. It's hard to figure out when this happened, but it seems like it was a month or so before the tour. So Jamie controls when she can use her cell phone and he monitors all of her colleagues, right. Well, according to one of the books I read, Britney Inside the Dream, she had to sneak around like someone on a spy mission just to try and get out messages to Sam. She can't contact him directly.
Jamie would never allow that. So she arranges a covert meeting with Sam Lutfi, sister Christina in the sonna of a swanky L.A. hotel. While they're sitting there sweating, Sam's sister hands Britney a burner phone. Christina will later testify that Britney was afraid of her father and needed Sam's help to hire an attorney. So Sam goes to work and apparently he makes progress because he texts Britney's hairdresser and asks her to pass along this message. I've done everything I can to free her from this very close to getting her free now.
Now, there are conflicting reports about how all of this plays out, so it's hard to know who to trust. But what we do know is that Jamie found the phone and found out what Sam was up to. He's never liked Sam. I mean, he once punched him in the solar plexus, so he's extra pissed.
On April 28th, 2009, Jamie Spears goes before a judge and accuses Sam of interfering with the conservatorship. And then his attorneys try to link Lotfy to the lawyer Britney tried to hire a few months back, accusing the two of a conspiracy to undermine the conservatorship. Jamie's attorneys asked the judge to extend the restraining order against Sam just three years. The judge agrees. Jamie three, Britney zero upon hearing the verdict.
Sam's lawyer says never before in the history of the world has a restraining order been issued against someone who merely responded to cries for help.
This is all so tragic. But there's hope on the horizon.
When the circus tour wraps up, Britney starts dating a guy named Jason Trawick IV actually known each other for a while. Jason is an agent for William Morris and Britney is one of his clients. That's one of the things she likes about him. He has a real job, not like the stray dogs she usually falls for. And apparently her dad must like that about him, too, because he doesn't object to them seeing each other. It seems like Brett has finally met someone who's on her side.
He sticks by her through everything, meaning the madness that is her life, the paparazzi, the conservator thing, all of it. And Britney starts to feel like she can be her true self with him. They date for two years. And then in December 2011, he pops the question at his fortieth birthday party. Of course, she says yes. And finally, there's a glimmer of a bright future ahead. And on April 6th, 2012, she files for Jason to be co conservator.
But this is the weird thing. There are two pieces to a conservatorship. One part essentially controls the person and all their day to day affairs. The other has legal control of the estate. Basically, all the money coming in the conservatorship for Jason is only over her personal affairs.
This whole thing feels so wrong for the courts to give power to men to rule over a grown ass woman's life.
I know, but at least Brit chose Jason and she trusts him. I mean, if someone's going to have that kind of control over your life, it should be someone you really love. Right.
And believe it or not, Jamie is on board with this new arrangement, too, because he gets to keep control of the estate and the money so he doesn't put up a fight. And on April 25th, a court signs off for the first time in years. Britney's feeling optimistic. The future finally has a bright, promising light, a future she can help shape or at least a first step, which is when she starts thinking about family, what she's always wanted since she was a little girl.
More kids to add to the two boys she loves so much a father, a house, a white picket fence. But Jason's not into it. He doesn't want to start a family. He doesn't want kids. And by December, he's not sure he even wants to be with Britney anymore. The whole conservator thing is wearing on him and he's starting to feel overshadowed by her like his identity is disappearing into the Britney of it all.
She can this poor woman ever catch a break out? Apparently not.
In January 2013, they call off their engagement. Britney returns the ring and Jason steps down as co conservator. So much for hope. Yeah. And now Jamie and his lawyer are back in charge of everything.
Britney Spears, the way she deals with a pain is to throw herself into her music. I mean, it's kind of amazing to me, honestly. It's like every time she gets kicked in the gut, she gets up and keeps going. She's a fighter.
Over the next three years, she releases two albums and gets one of those Las Vegas residencies at Planet Hollywood. There she does two hundred and forty eight shows and she stays out of the press. It seems like maybe she's accepted this is just how it's going to be living under Jamie's thumb forever, except she hasn't.
Yeah, because she's a fighter. Yeah.
In the summer of twenty eighteen, Britney's team sends her out on a massive world tour. Britney has now been under the conservatorship for 10 years, but she hasn't given up hope of being free and independent.
She decides to do a twenty eight show tour on multiple continents to prove to her father, as if she hasn't already, that she's OK. She doesn't even care if her dad keeps managing her estate. She just wants some freedom back for independence. She's hoping if she proves she can do this, she and Jamie can sit down and talk about it. But that conversation never happens instead. Shortly after Britney wraps up her world tour, they book her into another lengthy residency in Vegas called Britney Domination.
Can I just say, as someone who finds it taxing to shower more than twice in a week, this workload seems superhuman.
I really feel that. But here's what's weird.
In January 2019, she makes an announcement via her Instagram. The residency is no longer happening. Her reasons are written under a photo of Britney as a kid. She's wearing a pink taffeta dress and matching hat, standing next to her parents who look proud. This is what she says, actually. Do you want to read it or is she? I feel like I've been talking for a half hour.
Yeah, you have them. And yes, I'll read it, OK. I don't even know where to start with this because this is so tough for me to say. I will not be performing my new show. A couple of months ago, my father was hospitalized and almost died. We're all so grateful that he came out of it alive, but he still has a long road ahead of him. I had to make the difficult decision to put my full focus and energy on my family at this time.
I hope you all can understand. Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. I thought she and her father weren't exactly getting along.
Yeah, it seems odd, right? The fans are suspicious, too, but for other reasons. Some of them think maybe Jamie's behind it and he's not saying why he's not letting Britney perform.
They wonder why they didn't know about her dad's illness before and if he was sick for months, why wait so long to cancel the tour and then it starts spinning out?
Pretty soon, podcasts and Instagram accounts pop up, all dedicated to figuring out what's happening to Britney. They comment on how she's changed.
Her voice is different. There are photos that don't look like her. There are strange Instagram posts that don't make sense. They wonder if Britney is being drugged and held against her will. Is she trying to use her social media accounts to send secret messages because of.
That's what's happening. Her fans have her back. Pretty soon a hashtag emerges free Britney and then a full on movement.
Britney's fans are convinced Britney needs to be set free. I'm eating so many snacks right now. I think I'm becoming a snack. OK, using snack makes me want a perfect bar. And that's exactly my point. I can't stop eating perfect snacks, protein bars, peanut butter cups and even their kids snack bars. Those are the perfect size when I just want a little something. I love it. You can always feel good about snacking on perfect snacks because they're made with freshly nut butter, organic honey and 20 organic superfoods.
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After 11 years on the job, he wants to be removed as Britney's co conservator immediately. And the court agrees, which has got to be a good thing, right? One less person running Britney's life. Well, yeah.
Now that wallet is out. There is only one person in charge. Unfortunately, that one person is Jamie. And almost as soon as he takes complete control, something suspicious happens. TMZ runs a story. Yes, I know. I know. Take it with a thousand grains of salt, obviously. But they run a story saying Britney checked herself into a mental hospital because she's, quote, distraught over her dad's illness. But here's the weird thing. Jamie doesn't seem like he's all that sick.
At least he's not bedridden or anything, because right around the time the tm's story comes out, someone snaps a picture of Jamie driving his truck alone in Louisiana, headed out to a fishing hole.
Oh, yeah, that is fishy. Love it.
And then it gets even more confusing and mysterious. A fan podcast called Britney's Gram releases a voicemail from a fan who says he's a paralegal who worked on Britney's case here.
Listen, Britney has been in the mental facility since mid January. Of course, the statement yesterday said she entered last week. That is not true. She's been in mid January and there is no timeline. There is no end in sight for this day at the central facility. And she did not want to go. This was not a decision she made at all.
Now, we don't know if the voicemail is real, but for the free Britney crowd, it confirms all their worst fears that this conservatorship isn't about taking care of Britney. It's about controlling her, making her a prisoner, forcing her to do things she doesn't want and get help she doesn't need. And it's not just free Britney diehards who feel this way. Celebrities start to get in on the action. Miley Cyrus shouts free Britney from a concert stage. Cher tweets about it, too, and even starts rocking free Britney T-shirts.
Even Sharon Osborne speaks up, saying, when there's a lot of money involved, nothing would surprise me. It's time for her to have a life and maybe her dad can find a job. And celebrities aren't the only ones joining the free Britney chorus. Someone else, someone close to Britney has been liking posts from fans who say Britney's being held against her will. Britney's mom, Lynn Lynn, has never had any official role in Britney's conservatorship. She pretty much just relied on Jamie to keep her informed about what's going on.
Now, she wants to change that. She wants the courts to start informing her about everything that's going on and anything Jamie is doing on their daughter's behalf. And as a first step, she's going to accompany her daughter to a hearing about the conservatorship.
It's May 10, 12, 19. Britney and her mom just pulled up in front of a courthouse in downtown Los Angeles. When they climb out of the car, they're met by the roar of the crowd that's waiting out front. People are waving handmade signs that say dissolve the conservatorship. They're shouting free Britney. As Britney makes her way toward the entrance, she reaches over and takes her mom's hand. She looks calm, relaxed.
It's a closed door hearing, so we don't know exactly what goes down once they get inside. But we do know that Britney talks to the court about her children, her career and issues with her medical care.
And the judge hears her out. She orders an expert medical evaluation of Britney to find out if the conservatorship is really still necessary. She also wants investigators to interview everyone involved and to review Britney's medical and financial records. To see if Jamie really has been acting in Brett's best interest, they'll have to submit their report in September. Seems like a win. While it is the first time the court actually seems interested in hearing what Britney has to say when the hearings over and security guards escort Brit back to her car, she does something kind of curious.
She slips off her heels and walks to the car barefoot. Maybe they're giving her blisters, maybe. But to free Britney supporters, it's a sign of something else. They see it as an act of rebellion. Maybe Britney is finally going to break free. But then on August 24th, 2019, something happens that changes everything.
Britney and her two boys, Jayden and Sean, are visiting Jamie at his home in L.A. I picture them grilling. Hot dogs are playing Wiffle ball. Just a nice family gathering. But then Sean, who's thirteen at this point, says something that ticks Jamie off. We don't know what, but we do know there's no more Wiffle ball. After that, Jamie starts shouting and he freaks Shaun out so much that the poor kid runs into a bedroom and locks himself inside, which apparently just makes Jamie even angrier.
So what does he do? He breaks down the bedroom door, grabs Sean and apparently starts violent. Shaking him. Oh, my God, yeah, Britney eventually gets her kids out of there and luckily Sean isn't hurt, at least not physically. But this altercation isn't about to go away, not after Kevin finds out about it the very next day, he reports, Jamie, to the sheriff's department.
Good. Yeah, the D.A. declines to press charges because of insufficient evidence. Jamie's getting such bad press, he temporarily steps down as conservator of Brett's personal life, though he'll still oversee her estate. He says it's because of personal health reasons, but it seems pretty clear to me that that's not really the case to replace himself. Jamie hires a woman named Jody Montgomery who specializes in conservatorships to take over.
I mean, I know what Britney wants is to be free, but at least getting rid of Jamie has got to be a step in the right direction.
Except Britney pays the price for Jamie's freak out in other ways. Kevin didn't just go to the cops. He also went to the courts and they agree to revise the custody agreement. It's not going to be 50/50 anymore. Now, Kevin will get the kids 70 percent of the time. It's a crushing blow to Britney. Her boys are her lifeline.
If Britney wasn't pissed at her dad before, she's furious now.
She wants out of the conservatorship now more than ever, but she doesn't get her wish. Remember that September deadline when the court appointed experts are going to weigh in? Well, it comes and goes and the conservatorship stays in place.
Fast forward to February 20, 20. We just spent sixty dollars to visit a Kmart in the middle of Los Angeles. Well, it was a Kmart. Now it's been transformed into something called the zone. Everywhere you look, there's Britney memorabilia and full scale recreations of the sets from some of her most iconic videos. There's a gym like in the baby one more time video. There is a stage like the one from her circus tour. Now, I know what you're thinking.
This is just some big cash grab. But I think there are actually some good intentions here. This is like a house of worship. It's a place where fans can come and pay tribute to their idol. But there is one thing that's a little weird about the zone. It's totally fixated on the past. There aren't any recent pictures of Britney. As one newspaper points out, this is a museum dedicated to the Britney of old. It's like the Britney of today doesn't even exist.
Apparently, the guy who organized the zone never even met her. And the only promotion she does is reading some fan letters out loud here.
The next one is from Megan Dylan and she says, I love you. All of my childhood dreams have come true coming here, literally.
Like if you watch the clip, you can see she seems really nervous. She's rocking back and forth like she can't stand still.
Yeah, she doesn't sound like herself either.
It almost sounds like she's been crying. Exactly. Fans start to wonder, is she being drugged? Is that why she can't keep still?
Her fans are now scrutinizing everything. Anyone related to Britney post online looking for clues and the hits keep coming. In March, her son goes on Instagram live and announces she's quitting the business. What? Yeah, it just kind of seems like Britney's giving up. It's like as long as she doesn't have control of her life, as long as she's just doing other people's bidding, then what's the point? And I just I look, I know we try to be objective when we tell these stories, but honestly, this just makes me so upset.
Like, did Britney have a tough time a decade ago? Yes. Did she need help getting back on her feet? Sure, maybe. But look at what she's done since then.
She's released hit singles. She's been on world tours. She's done everything right. Oh, I'm totally with you. It's complete bullshit that the conservatorship is still thing. And even if for the sake of argument, you want to say that it was necessary that her dad should have 100 percent not been involved at all, period.
Well, here's the good news. We may be getting there.
Just last week, Britney filed to have her father removed as conservator for good, Jamie three, Britney one.
And she's not free yet. But it seems like maybe, just maybe things are headed that way.
You know what I keep thinking? What's that? Well, obviously, I want her to have her freedom. But I also keep thinking about how frickin special Britney is. She came out of nowhere and changed the world.
She's literally a one in a million talent. She's like this incredible singer and dancer and acrobat, and she's gorgeous and down to earth and goofy all at the same time. And I don't think anybody else could have pulled off what she did. Even if she decides never to perform again. We should all be so grateful that she shared her talent with us. Yeah.
And I'm optimistic that she's got more talent to share because she's still fighting. And if we know anything about Bret, it's that she doesn't give up and she's not alone in this anymore. She's got so many fans out there who are in this fight with her, including us. I feel like holding your hand right now. Virtual hand.
This is the final episode of our series, Free Britney, but it's not the end of the story because as we all know, Britney is still not free and the free Britney movement is still going strong. And next week, we're going to talk to someone who's been following this whole thing almost since it began. We'll talk about the latest developments in the case, the free Britney movement, and explore questions we all want to know, like, is Britney OK or is there something really wrong?
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Subscribe on Apple podcast, Spotify, the Wonder App or wherever you're listening right now. Join hundred plus in the Wonder app to listen ad free. In the episode notes, you'll find some links and offers from our sponsors. Please support them. Another way to support us is to answer a short survey at Wonder Slash survey. We use many sources when researching our stories like Rolling Stone and People, but we especially recommend Britney Inside the Dream by Steve Dennis Through the Storm by Lynn Spears and the podcast Danso and Eat Pray Britney.
I'm Brooke Saffron and I'm a Reesha Skidmore Williams. Sara Lifrieri wrote this episode. Our producer is Caleb Bissinger. Our sound design is by James Morgan, audio assistant by Sergio Henriquez, additional editing by Alison Reimer. Our executive producers are Stephanie Jones marshmallowy and Hernan Lopez from Thundery.
Hi, I'm Robbie Damond, host of one free show, Imagine Life in this week, we're bringing you a special episode for the whole family. Have you ever wondered what it would feel like to go on a journey with someone who changed the world? You may know who the person is or you might know something they've done or accomplished, but you will experience the challenges and triumphs they faced as they became someone who made a difference. This week, the dancer.
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