Britney Spears’ assistants, security members and tour managers are speaking out in the second FX and New York Times documentary installment “Controlling Britney Spears” (now streaming on Hulu).
Earlier this month Spears’ father, James “Jamie” Spears, filed a petition to end his daughter’s conservatorship that he has controlled at least in part for the last 13 years. The move was a dramatic change by Jamie Spears, who has argued in court documents for years that his daughter was not ready to be free of guardianship.
The documentary streaming on Hulu comes as several other media outlets, including CNN and Netflix, have announced their own programming surrounding Spears ahead of the upcoming Sept. 29 hearing to end the conservatorship. The New York Times’ first investigative look into the conservatorship, “Framing Britney” sparked conversation around the nation.
“The first rule of the conservatorship was that you don’t talk about the conservatorship,” Spears’ Circus tour manager Dan George said in the documentary.
“Controlling Britney” includes interviews revealing the private details of Spears’ life under what is now a very public conservatorship. Here are some of the biggest revelations.
Security monitored Spears’ iPhone via iPad
Alex Vlasov spoke about his tenure, which lasted from 2012 to 2021, as a member of Spears’ security team. Her father hired Black Box Security, headed by Edan Yemini, to provide around-the-clock safety for Spears.
Vlasov remembered Spears wanting an iPhone while under the conservatorship.
“She saw her assistants have iPhones, dancers, team, Edan (Yemini) even, and she wanted an iPhone,” Vlasov says. “Everyone was worried.”
The worries came from security concerns, according to Vlasov, who remembers Yemini asking if iPhones come with “parental controls.” Vlasov said Robin Greenhill, a member of Spears’ business management team, came up with the idea of monitoring her phone with an iPad with the matching iCloud account linked toSpears’ phone.
“You would be able to see all messages, all facetime calls, notes, browser history, photographs,” Vlasov says. “They would also monitor conversations with her friends, with her mom, with her lawyer Sam Ingham.”
The star posted on Instagram in August that she had gotten an iPad for the very first time.
Spears’ assistants were isolated during Circus tour
Individuals who worked on the Circus tour described the environment as “toxic” and “yucky.”
Felicia Culotta was Spears’ long-time personal assistant. When the Circus tour was gearing up she returned to her assistant role but with different rules.
“It slowly became where I wasn’t allowed to be by her side and wasn’t allowed to have a conversation without having other people present, which was very odd,” Culotta says.
One day she was called into a meeting by Jamie Spears where he told Culotta she wasn’t going to be work the tour in Europe.
“He said ‘if (Britney) sees you she won’t go on stage,” Culotta recalls.
Despite instructions, she went on the tour but tried to keep out of the pop singer’s eyesight. However backstage during the last show, she made eye contact with Spears.
“She took a full running leap and ran all the way down the hall and leapt (sp) onto me and she went ‘Fe! … Where have you been’,” Culotta says.” I was moved away from being part of the support system is that I simply said ‘If I see something with my eyes, I will tell it’.”
Security surveilled The ‘Free Britney’ movement
The ‘Free Britney’ movement gained traction in 2019 when news of Spears’ conservatorship began to spark public conversation. Renewed interest was further ignited after the first FX and New York Times installment “Framing Britney Spears,” which launched on Hulu in February.
“Edan initially was very worried about the “Free Britney” movement because it was something out of their control, it was something that was shaping on its own,” Vlasov says.
Vlasov says the movement was “heavily investigated” when it first kicked off.
“Undercover investigators were placed within the crowds to talk to fans, to ID them, to document who they were. It was all under the umbrella this was for Britney’s protection,” he says.
Vlasov later added that Spears’ testimony in July encouraged him to walk away from Black Box Security.
“It was the complete opposite of what we’ve always been told working there,” he says. “I heard Britney’s testimony and I think that was the final indicator that I wanted to come forward with what I know.”
Contributing: Amy Haneline