The New York Times Presents: Framing Britney Spears VOSTFRDanielle
The New York Times Presents: Framing Britney Spears is a 2021 documentary television film directed by Samantha Stark and produced by Jason Stallman, Sam Dolnick, and Stephanie Priess. The film revolves around the career of American singer Britney Spears, her celebrity and popularity within American culture, and the conservatorship that she has been living under since 2008, which has sparked the fan-driven #FreeBritney movement.
In 2021, at age 39, Britney Spears, one of the world’s more successful pop stars with an estimated net worth of $59 million, has remained legally under the control of her father Jamie Spears since 2008.
Framing Britney Spears re-examines the singer’s career, her rise to intense fame and personal struggles throughout her three decades in show business.
Former Jive Records marketing executive Kim Kaiman, who helped cultivate Spears’s image once she signed a recording contract, describes Jamie as being disconnected from his daughter’s life early. “The only thing Jamie ever said to me was ‘My daughter’s gonna be so rich, she’s gonna buy me a boat,'” Kaiman says.
Interviewers are shown at various times asking Spears sexist and distressing questions; Diane Sawyer accuses her of “upsetting a lot of mothers in this country.”
The film alleges that Justin Timberlake weaponized his breakup with Spears in the “Cry Me a River” music video and in an interview where he enthusiastically acknowledges having sex with her.
The documentary also explores Spears’s meltdown in 2007, and interviews paparazzo Daniel “Dano” Ramos who photographed Spears attacking his car with an umbrella. “She never gave a clue or information to us that, I don’t appreciate you guys, leave me the eff alone,” Ramos says.
Spears’s relationship with Sam Lufti, who then identified himself as her new manager, is speculated in the film to be a turning point for her father to first negotiate a conservatorship and is described as “attaching himself to celebrities, often at vulnerable moments for them.”
The film explains that conservatorships are put in place for people who are unable to make their own decisions or are mentally incapacitated. Spears is shown working consistently throughout her conservatorship.
Spears’s longtime family friend and former assistant Felicia Culotta says she’s baffled about the conservatorship arrangement “especially for somebody Britney’s age and somebody capable of so much that I know firsthand she’s capable of.”
The film notes that Spears has publicly moved for her father to be permanently ousted from his conservator role and shows clips of her fans in the #FreeBritney movement demanding the courts fulfill the singer’s wishes.
At the end of the film, a list of names of those contacted for their contributions to this film but did not end up doing so is shown, including Spears’s family. It is shown that Britney Spears was asked to be interviewed, but it was never known if she received the request.