“Britney vs Spears” will debut on Netflix on Sept. 28. The next day, Sept. 29, marks the most significant court hearing, to date in the singer’s long and drawn-out legal battle, as she fights for her freedom out of the conservatorship that she’s been under for more than a decade with her father, Jamie Spears, largely acting as her sole conservator.
In the trailer, the pop star’s voice is heard from an audio recording from her June 23 testimony at the Los Angeles Superior Courthouse, where she addressed the court for the first time publicly, telling the judge that she is traumatized and pleading, “I just want my life back.”
“I’ve worked my whole life,” Spears’ voiceover is heard saying in the trailer. “I don’t owe these people anything.”
The doc’s title, “Britney vs Spears,” is a play on the singer’s battle against her father, who she has accused of “conservatorship abuse,” asking a judge this summer to “press charges” against him. (In fact, just this morning, Spears’ attorney filed legal documents, urging, once again, for the “immediate suspension” of Jamie Spears, ahead of next week’s hearing, and indicating that the conservatorship will be terminated sometime this fall.)
The Netflix project, directed by filmmaker Erin Lee Carr, has been in the works for over a year. The doc will center around Spears’ conservatorship, posing questions about the necessity of the highly unusual legal arrangement and the alleged corruption of her father’s involvement, plus, the larger issues with conservatorship laws and the overall justice system.
“What was going on inside the conservatorship? And why was she still in one if she was okay?” the trailer says.
“There was financial incentives for Jamie, for the lawyers,” a voiceover is heard saying in the trailer. “Britney made other people a lot of money.”
Though the trailer does not reveal exactly who sat down for the documentary, the Netflix clip includes voiceovers of various people weighing in on Spears’ conservatorship saga, including Spears’ ex, paparazzo Adnan Ghalib, and a legal expert who appears to be an attorney specializing in conservatorship cases. It also seems that the doc will reveal new information, as the trailer teases a confidential document that was leaked to the filmmakers by someone involved with the conservatorship.
A man who appears to be a medical professional appears on-camera in the trailer, saying, “I’m not going to acknowledge that I was ever brought in to evaluate Britney Spears.”
Netflix has not announced who will appear in the documentary, so it’s not clear who from Spears’ orbit — friends or family — might have participated in the project. However, in images released on Wednesday, the singer’s former assistant, Felicia Culotta, is featured.
Though she had spoken in court before, in 2019, this past June marked the first time Spears had publicly addressed a judge, which catapulted even more interest in her situation, sparking outrage from her fans around the world, who’ve been following her case since her conservatorship began in 2008. During testimony in June, the singer detailed harrowing allegations, including being prevented from getting married and having a baby by being forced to keep in her IUD birth control device. (This month, Spears announced her engagement to longtime boyfriend, actor Sam Asghari.)
Earlier this summer, Spears was granted the ability to hire her own lawyer after having worked with a court-appointed attorney, Samuel D. Ingham, ever since she was placed under the conservatorship. The singer hired Mathew Rosengart as her counsel, and since bringing him on, the case has seen more movement in just a few months than it has seen in the past 13 years.
The star’s legal saga hit a major curveball earlier last month when her father said he would agree to work with the court on stepping down as conservator of his daughter’s estate. Then, he abruptly petitioned the court to terminate the conservatorship altogether.
Rosengart has accused the elder Spears of “dissipating” his client’s multi-million dollar fortune and claims he was trying to extort $2 million from his daughter’s estate, in exchange to step down from the conservatorship.
While that in itself is a major victory for Spears, her father’s legal strategy is complex and self-serving, according to experts who caution what steps the court may take at next week’s hearing. Spears’ attorney, Rosengart, still has not officially requested to terminate the conservatorship. But in today’s filing, he asked the court to set a hearing on terminating the conservatorship “at its soonest convenience.”
It remains to be seen what the court will determine next week at the Sept. 29 hearing.
The Netflix documentary is not the first Spears-centric project. The New York Times produced a doc for Hulu and FX, “Framing Britney Spears,” which took a look at the conservatorship case, the #FreeBritney movement and the misogynistic media narrative that has followed the pop star throughout her entire career in the spotlight. That doc has been credited with galvanizing public interest in the high-profile case, and was nominated for two Emmy awards. Spears said she was “embarrassed” by that documentary, though she stated she did not watch it.
Spears has not yet commented on the Netflix doc. It’s unclear whether she was able to be reached for the project, or was aware of it before it was announced this week.
Netflix’s “Britney vs Spears” is a Story Syndicate production, in association with Carr Lot Productions. Carr is producing with Sarah Gibson, Kate Barry, Dan Cogan, Liz Garbus, Jon Bardin, Julie Gaither, Jenny Eliscu and Amy Herdy.
Watch the trailer here: