5:00am PT by THR Staff
5 Revelations from the Britney Spears Trial
In an ill-timed trial for X Factor judge Britney Spears, the man who claims to be her ex-manager, Sam Lutfi, and her mother Lynne Spears are going head-to-head in a Los Angeles courtroom. The former alleges that the elder spears defamed him in her 2008 book, Through The Storm: A Real Story of Fame and Family in a Tabloid World, and is also demanding unpaid management fees. The Spears clan says Lutfi is nothing more than a drug pusher and a gold-digger looking to make a name for himself by latching onto Spears’.
The trial began Oct. 18, with opening statements presented by Lutfi attorney Joseph Schleimer, followed by lawyers for both Spears' parents. They assert that between 2007 and 2008, during which time the pop star was hospitalized for a psychiatric evaluation (known as an involuntary 5150 hold) and as a result forced into a conservatorship, the accuser was not only manipulating Britney Spears but torturing their daughter in the process.
The trial is expected to last two weeks and so far the procedures have been titillating and disturbing for those following along on Twitter and TMZ, allowing a rare and very real look behind the scenes of superstardom. Among the revelations:
Justin Timberlake was responsible for Spears’ downward spiral: According to opening statements by attorney Leon Gladstone, who represents father Jamie Spears, it was Britney Spears’ headline-grabbing breakup in 2002 with longtime love Timberlake that changed her demeanor from someone who was a “ray of light” to being “depressed” and “angry.”
Spears earned $800,000 a month: Lynne Spears’ legal team, headed by Steve Rohde, says Lutfi was looking to pocket a 15 percent management commission from Britney Spears’ earnings, or around $120,000 a month back in 2007-2008. However, according to Joel Boxer, who represents the conservatorship, Lutfi never sent any such demand payment for his services.
Spears likely shaved her head to hide evidence of drug use: In what was long suspected by the celebrity press, Lutfi seemed to confirm that Spears’ infamous 2007 meltdown, during which she ambushed a San Fernando Valley salon and buzzed off all her hair, was a desperate move by the pop star to conceal traces of her alleged drug use. Testing positive would put custody of her kids at risk, Spears believed. Lutfi claims her substance of choice was crystal meth, though he contradicts statements he made at the time claiming the bald look was "a cool thing ... somebody expressing their artistic side." Spears was sent to rehab three times during this period -- twice, she left treatment after only one day.
Lutfi tortured Spears by hiding her dog, cutting phone access: According to Spears’ lawyers, Lutfi was so cruel that he would kidnap her pet terrier and then claim to “find” the dog in what TMZ calls a “twisted affection play.” Lynne Spears also alleges that Lutfi would cut off her daughter’s access to telephones, both cellular and land lines.
- Spears would call label head Barry Weiss in the middle of the night: While longtime manager Larry Rudolph was largely absent from Spears’ life both personally and professionally during the years in question, Spears kept in touch with then RCA/Jive Label Group chairman Barry Weiss, according to testimony by the music executive on Oct. 22. “She was texting me constantly," he told the courtroom. Adding that he considered himself “a lifeline” for Spears, Weiss revealed that he thought of Lutfi as a glorified “gofer” and wasn’t impressed by the work he had done with the label’s biggest act, a music video for a song from her Blackout album. Weiss, who’s now chairman & CEO of The Island Def Jam Music Group and Universal Republic Records, also revealed what THR had previously reported, that he’s had discussions about signing Spears when her Jive contract is up. "It would be nice to be back together, if that happened," he said.