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The New York Times, FX and Hulu are set to release a follow-up documentary to Framing Britney Spears, titled Controlling Britney Spears, which is slated to premiere tonight, just days ahead of the release of a secret Netflix documentary about the conservatorship and a high-profile hearing on the arrangement.
The project, directed by Samantha Stark with Liz Day as a supervising producer and reporter, explores new allegations from insiders with knowledge of Spears’ daily life inside the conservatorship. It’s set to premiere tonight at 10 p.m. ET on FX and Hulu.
The documentary highlights how the conservatorship has “controlled” Spears’ life, according to a release about the project, including “an intense surveillance apparatus that monitored every move she made.”
The film follows up on the Times‘ reporting of a confidential missive from Spears to a court investigator that the conservatorship was “an oppressive and controlling tool against her.”
“When Britney spoke publicly about her conservatorship in detail for the first time during a court hearing in June, she said a reason she hadn’t spoken up earlier is she didn’t think people would believe her,” Stark said in a statement. “She said she felt abused under the conservatorship and questioned whether the judge thought she was lying. Britney’s speech motivated the people in this film to seek us out to share their stories — at great risk to themselves — because they felt compelled to back up what Britney was saying with evidence they had or moments they witnessed.”
Day added, “Britney’s situation raises a lot of important questions about the conservatorship system at large and whether it is working properly. We felt that it was in the public interest to examine that.”
The new New York Times documentary will be released just days before a highly anticipated secret documentary, Britney vs. Spears, debuts on Netflix and ahead of a eagerly awaited court hearing Sept. 29 that could decide the fate of the conservatorship. The Netflix doc, just announced this week after months of rumors, is set to drop Tuesday, Sept. 28.
Earlier this month, Spears’ father asked the court to end his daughter’s conservatorship, with Spears’ attorney previously filing a petition to have her father removed as conservator of her estate.
On Friday morning, ABC’s Good Morning America debuted a clip from Controlling Britney Spears in which a former employee from the security team monitoring her recalls being given an audio recording device and USB drive and being asked to “wipe it.” He said he had those who gave him the drive tell him what was on it and they “seemed very nervous and said it was extremely sensitive and said no one can ever know about this and that’s why I need to delete everything on it, so there’s no record of it.”
“That raised so many red flags with me and I did not want to be complicit in whatever they were involved in so I kept a copy because I don’t want to delete evidence,” the former employee said in the clip.
Stark and Day previously indicated in interviews with The Hollywood Reporter that they were working on a follow-up.
Speaking to THR in July, Stark said, “There’s so much more to the story … Right now, we’re researching and gathering and seeing if it’s possible. We’re looking for people with firsthand experience who can shed light on things that have been very kept in secret. I think a lot of people have been scared to share what they know. I also think that the only person who can tell her story, who can tell the story of Britney Spears, is Britney Spears. So I’ve been thinking so much and, especially after the Emmy nomination [for Framing Britney Spears], about this idea that this is not over.”
Earlier, just weeks after the documentary aired, in a separate interview with THR, Day said they’d “love to” do a follow-up, saying, “There was so much we had to leave on the cutting room floor and in our notebooks just for time. And also since the documentary aired, we’ve gotten a lot of information that we’re interested in as well that we’re interested in pursuing and reporting out further.”
“The documentary has helped us earn the trust of even more people,” Day added. “As we talked about earlier, people have been very distrustful of the press because they’ve felt burned in the past and I think the documentary’s very sensitive treatment and respect of all parties and everyone helped us further.”
On GMA, Day said that Spears’ emotional testimony in a hearing in June also inspired people to speak out.
“A lot of people who had been involved over the years felt motivated to come forward to support her story and say, ‘Here’s what I witnessed and it backs up some of the serious stuff she said,'” Day said.
As for other projects like the Netflix doc, Day told THR in July, “We have often had an observation that this could have been a 10-part series. There’s so much to this story and to the conservatorship still that is unknown that is worth exploring. So for me to know that there are other projects coming out, that’s great. The more light shed on the situation, the better — as long as it’s obviously journalistic and has standards.”
Controlling Britney Spears is part of the New York Times Presents series of stand-alone documentary films based on the Times‘ journalism and is produced by the Times and Left/Right, a Red Arrow Studios company. Executive producers are Ken Druckerman, Banks Tarver, Mary Robertson, Jason Stallman, Sam Dolnick and Stephanie Preiss.
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