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Exclusive Interview:
The Battle for Britney

The Battle for Britney on BBC Select follows award-winning journalist Mobeen Azhar as he seeks to uncover the truth behind Britney Spears’s thirteen-year-long conservatorship following her public breakdown in 2008. This film includes never-before-seen interviews with Billy Brasfield, Britney’s makeup artist, her former choreographer Brian Friedman, lawyer Lisa MacCarley and celebrity blogger Perez Hilton. Plus, Catherine Falk offers a personal insight as she discusses her Columbo actor father Peter, who was the subject of a conservatorship in his final years.

Watch The Battle for Britney: Fans, Cash and a Conservatorship now on BBC Select via the Apple TV app or Amazon Prime Video Channels.

We sat down with Mobeen to look at how the story has developed since he worked on The BBC Britney Spears documentary:

Mobeen Azhar: A conservatorship is somewhat of a legal oddity. It can be put in place to safeguard the assets of individuals who are deemed unfit to make their own decisions. An example might be someone with a debilitating mental illness who lacks the capacity to make decisions that serve their interests. That’s fine in principle but the fact is, conservatorships involve power and control. In the case of Britney Spears, huge amounts of money are also involved. It’s easy to understand why the conservatorship system maybe open to abuse…

Catherine Falk:
‘They’re not going to let her go’

Catherine Falk’s father, Peter Falk was the star of long-running detective series Columbo. Catherine tells Mobeen that her father’s dementia meant his wife became his conservator – giving her the power to allegedly block his children from visiting him.

Mobeen Azhar: Britney Spears was placed in a conservatorship more than a decade ago after she faced challenges with her mental health. It’s impossible to know the exact motivations of everyone involved at the time but whilst making ‘The Battle for Britney’ I found court documents that state Ms Spears was placed in a conservatorship because she has dementia. 

I see no evidence that Ms Spears has been living with dementia over a period in which she has released multiple albums and toured extensively. There are obvious questions about the real beneficiaries of the current set up and if it serves the interests of Ms Spears…

Billy B:
‘Britney wants the most normal things’

Billy Brasfield, Britney’s makeup artist tells Mobeen what he believes Britney wants from the end of her conservatorship.

Mobeen Azhar: Since ‘The Battle for Britney’ was released, Ms Spears has spoken in court and made it clear that she believes her rights are being violated. She wants the conservatorship to end.

 Regardless of anyone’s opinion of the Britney fandom and the idiosyncrasies of the #FreeBritney movement, it has brought the issue of potential conservatorship abuse to public attention. This is in my view a really good thing.

 I believe the publicity generated by the #FreeBritney movement and the documentation of this story have fuelled an important public discussion. I hope that discussion will translate into justice for Ms Spears and more broadly, increased regulation that can prevent conservatorship abuse. 

Watch the Battle for Britney

Watch The Battle for Britney: Fans, Cash and a Conservatorship now on BBC Select via the Apple TV app or Amazon Prime Video Channels.

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