Britney shares rare photo with sons
Britney Spears has shared a rare photo with her two sons, expressing how "extremely lucky" she feels to be their parent.
Hours before a disturbing - and controversial - documentary examining Spears' unusual conservatorship arrangement and treatment at the hands of the tabloid press finally airs in Australia, Spears posted to Instagram, writing "it's so crazy how time flies".
"My boys are so big now!!!! I know … I know … it's very hard for any mama especially a mama with boys seeing them grow up so fast!!!!" the 39-year-old wrote of Sean and Jayden.
"Talk about enough to make you go to your knees … GEEZ!!!! I'm extremely lucky because my two babies are such gentleman (sic) and so kind that I must have done something right!!!!
"I haven't posted pictures of them for some time cause they're at the age where they want to express their own identities and I totally get it … But I went out of my way to make this cool edit and guess what … They're finally letting me post it!!!"
The film also explores the men in Spears' life - and how some have played a hand in shaping her public perception.
From boyfriends to managers, these are the males who've played a part in the singer's career, personal life and conservatorship.
Arguably the most prominent male in Spears' life - and the one at the crux of the #FreeBritney movement - is her father, Jamie.
The 68-year-old - who Framing Britney Spears paints as a distant figure in her childhood - became Spears' conservator in January 2008, taking control of her business and financial decisions. The drastic legal arrangement is usually employed to help care for those who are severely mentally incapacitated.
Cracks in the arrangement started to show late last year, when a Los Angeles courtroom heard that Spears - who has requested her father be removed completely from her conservatorship - is "afraid" of her father, and that the two barely speak.
Iranian actor and personal trainer Sam Asghari has been in a relationship with Spears since 2016, when they met on the set of her Slumber Party music video.
Asghari has spoken a number of times now about the #FreeBritney movement, calling his Jamie a "total d**k".
"Now it's important for people to understand that I have zero respect for someone trying to control our relationship and constantly throwing obstacles our way," Asghari wrote on Instagram in February.
"In my opinion, Jamie is a total d**k. I won't be going into details because I've always respected our privacy but at the same time I didn't come to this country to not be able to express my opinion and freedom."
In a statement to People regarding Spears' conservatorship and the documentary, Asghari said he has "always wanted nothing but the best for my better half, and will continue to support her follow her dreams and creating the future she wants and deserves".
"I am thankful for all of the love and support she is receiving from her fans all over the world, and I am looking forward to a normal, amazing future together," he added.
When thedocumentary first aired in the US, calls quickly escalated for Justin Timberlake - Spears' boyfriend between 1999 and 2002 - to apologise over their break-up.
Framing Britney Spears alleges Timberlake, then 21, used his Cry Me A River music video to imply Spears had cheated on him, with one contributor to the documentary describing it as a type of "revenge porn".
The documentary also claims Spears became demonised in the public eye as a result of the break-up and was scrutinised by journalists including Diane Sawyer.
Timberlake finally issued an apology to both Spears and Janet Jackson, admitting that he "fell short" and "benefited from a system that condones misogyny and racism", but fans were quick to point out it only came amid the public backlash against him.
Spears married her back-up dancer Kevin Federline in September, 2004 after a whirlwind six month courtship. The pair divorced in 2007.
Federline has largely kept quiet amid the calls for Spears' freedom, his lawyer Mark Vincent Kaplan told The Morning Crew's Hughesy, Ed and Erin in February that the exes have a "good relationship at this time".
"And the conservatorship probably provides some degree of security that things are in an organised and structured environment when the boys have allocated time with Britney. If it wasn't there we'd have to re-evaluate," he added.
Kaplan previously told E! NewsFederline "has no involvement with regard to Britney and her attorneys asking to remove Jamie as conservator" and has "stayed out of the conservatorship issues".
SONS WITH KEVIN FEDERLINE
Spears and Federline have two sons - Sean Preston, born in 2005 and Jayden James, born in 2006.
The couple share custody of the boys, with a 70-30 split in Federline's favour.
Spears' longtime manager, Larry Rudolph, "discovered" the singer when she was 13-years-old, and the two have endured a rocky working relationship since, with Spears firing Rudolph multiple times.
According to Jamie Spears, Rudolph was the one who "talked Britney into going into rehab" in 2007, "doing what her mother, father and team of professionals with over 100 years of experience knew needed to be done".
"She was out of control. Larry was the one chosen by the team to roll up his sleeves and deliver the message, to help save her life," Jamie added, in an email at the time to the New York Post.
Rudolph told The Washington Post in 2019 that Spears' "conservatorship is not a jail".
"It helps Britney make business decisions and manage her life in ways she can't do on her own right now," he said.
Spears was granted a restraining order against Sam Lutfi - her manager between 2007 and 2008 - in both 2009 and 2019, with Lutfi accused of being a bad influence during Spears' mental breakdowns and of saying he was her former manager.
Jamie Spears has called Lutfi a "predator" on his family for more than a decade, telling a Los Angeles court in 2019 he was worried the man was "trying to take down the conservatorship".
Lutfi was accused of causing "severe mental trauma" while interfering with Spears' life, with the singer's legal team claiming he tried to disrupt the conservatorship by using "vigilante action, bribes and release of private information".
Spears married her childhood friend, Jason Alexander, in 2004 - when they eloped in Las Vegas, with Spears wearing ripped jeans and a baseball cap.
"It was just crazy, man," Alexander told Access Hollywood at the time. "And we were just looking at each other and said, 'Let's do something wild, crazy. Let's go get married, just for the hell of it'."
The marriage was quickly annulled 55 hours after it happened, with Spears' legal team arguing she "lacked understanding of her actions, to the extent that she was incapable of agreeing to the marriage".
Lawyer Andrew Wallet was appointed to help Jamie Spears manage Spears' estate and financial decisions in 2008, stepping back in March 2019.
In court documents from 2018, Wallet claimed that since taking over the conservatorship, Spears' estate had made $US20 million ($A26 million). When Jamie wanted to re-hire Wallet in August last year, Spears was against it, which led to Wallet accusing the #FreeBritney fan movement of "complicating" the conservatorship legal proceedings.
"Britney to this day does not have the capacity to sign documents and make decisions for herself," he claimed.
"Protecting her assets is very important and for that the conservatorship has to say in place because she is susceptible to undue influences."
A series of uncomfortable interviews with Spears during the peak of her career also feature - usually showing the star talking to male reporters, who ask bizarre - and often inappropriate - questions.
Usually much older than Spears, the interviewers ask the teen star everything from whether she had breast implants to whether or not she was a virgin, causing her to squirm and try to answer their questions politely.
Australia's own Mike Munro also appears in the documentary, interviewing Spears for A Current Affair in 2001.
"To many, you are a contradiction. On the one hand you're a sweet, innocent virginal type. On the other hand you're a sexy vamp in underwear," he told her, a suggestion she baulked at.
"I wouldn't say 'in underwear'. On the cover of Rolling Stone, that was the only time. But not when I perform, no," she insisted.
Sit-down interviews with (then) respected reporters like Matt Lauer and Diane Sawyer in the early years of her career also saw Spears struggle.
Lauer confronted new mum Spears with accusations she was a "bad mother". In both interviews, the fragile Spears seemed to surprise herself as she suddenly burst into tears.
- With Nick Bond
Originally published as Britney shares rare photo with sons