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Britney Spears Will Be Back In Court Over Her Conservatorship


Britney Spears will appear in court today. A judge might rule on whether to remove her father, Jamie Spears, from his role as her conservator. In June, Britney told a judge that for the past 13 years, she's had no control over her own money or even her choice to have kids.


BRITNEY SPEARS: It's embarrassing and demoralizing, what I've been through. And that's the main reason I've never said it openly. And mainly, I didn't want to say it openly 'cause I honestly don't think anyone would believe me.

KING: NPR's Andrew Limbong has been following this one. Good morning, Andrew.


KING: This is a story that's developed throughout the summer. Catch us up on where we are.

LIMBONG: Yeah. Yeah, so arguably, the biggest development since this summer and today is that Britney Spears was able to choose her own lawyer, you know, instead of having to go through her court-appointed one. Now, ever since that happened, her lawyer, Mathew Rosengart, has been a lot more aggressive on Spears' behalf, communicating, you know, what she wants to her judge, Brenda Penny. And at the top, top, of that list is removing Spears' father, Jamie Spears, from his position as a conservator of her estate. And, you know, in the past, Britney Spears has said that she found her father, like, intimidating - right? - and abusive. Now, it's important to remember that there's still, like, another conservator, Jodi Montgomery, who handles, you know, issues of Britney's health and well-being. And so while, like, her big-picture goal might be to end the conservatorship entirely, today's pretty much just going to focus on Jamie's involvement.

KING: And is that what's being decided today?

LIMBONG: Yeah, yeah, yeah. That's at the, you know, top of the list. So previously, Jamie Spears has said he'd consider stepping down. But he'd use, like, vague language with regard to the timeline, right? So he'd say like, oh, I'll step down when the time is right, or I want to step down, you know, in an orderly fashion. Spears' lawyer, Mathew Rosengart, he's filed, like, a number of petitions to the court, you know, recently arguing why Jamie Spears should, you know, be removed from the conservatorship immediately, right? And so among them is a detail reported in the recent New York Times-FX documentary, "Controlling Britney Spears," that alleged her guardians planted a listening device in her room and recorded private conversations without anybody's consent. Also, Britney Spears is getting married to her boyfriend, Sam Asghari. And, you know, according to paperwork filed by Rosengart, they want to get all the paperwork signed and all that, including a prenuptial agreement. You know, in a normal conservatorship, that would have to go through the conservator of the estate. Obviously, because of Britney Spears' relationship with her dad, that's, you know, not ideal.

KING: One of the interesting things about this story is how many developments have come through these documentaries. There was the New York Times documentary. There were two, actually. There was a follow-up. I just saw it last weekend. There's also a Netflix documentary. This is not usually the way news breaks, but in this case, it is. What are the big things that we're learning from those movies?

LIMBONG: I think it's - one of the biggest takeaways from "Britney Vs Spears," which is the Netflix one, was - they really hammered down how hard her conservators were working her, right? And so they'd put her on tours and book her on these shows. And there are obvious financial incentives for those in charge to keep her working hard. But those filmmakers had these background conversations with people close to her who said just, like, the grind wasn't great for her health.

KING: There are people who will say this is one pop star who is a millionaire; why does this matter? We should point out there are broader implications to this one.

LIMBONG: Oh yeah. Conservatorship reform - people are watching this, like, super closely. And it could have, like, national policy implications. Like, there was a Senate subcommittee hearing yesterday, and it was called toxic conservatorships.

KING: NPR's Andrew Limbong. Thank you for your reporting. We appreciate it.

LIMBONG: Thanks, Noel. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Andrew Limbong is a reporter for NPR's Arts Desk, where he does pieces on anything remotely related to arts or culture, from streamers looking for mental health on Twitch to Britney Spears' fight over her conservatorship. He's also covered the near collapse of the live music industry during the coronavirus pandemic. He's the host of NPR's Book of the Day podcast and a frequent host on Life Kit.