Controlling Britney Spears: Surprise Documentary Premiering Tonight On Hulu And FX

The New York Times, Hulu and FX have announced the surprise premiere of "Controlling Britney Spears," a feature-length documentary follow-up to "Framing Britney Spears," which released earlier this year. 

Back in 2007, a viral plea to "Leave Britney Alone" became the object of gleeful mockery across the internet. In 2021, it's a cause that has united people from all walks of life as the pop star fights against the conservatorship that has controlled her life since it was court-ordered in 2008. And it's a particularly hot topic right now, with Spears' next court hearing coming up on September 29 and a Netflix documentary, "Britney vs Spears," set to release on September 28.

Like "Framing Britney Spears," "Controlling Britney Spears" was directed by Samantha Stark, who said on Twitter that the new documentary was put together "in a matter of weeks." Stark appeared alongside producer Liz Day on "Good Morning America" to announce the follow-up and discuss how it came about. Explaining the reason for making a second documentary (which is set to premiere tonight at 10pm ET on FX and Hulu), Stark said:

"When Britney spoke publicly about her conservatorship in detail for the first time during a court hearing in June, she said a reason she hadn't spoken up earlier is she didn't think people would believe her ... She said she felt abused under the conservatorship and questioned whether the judge thought she was lying. Britney's speech motivated the people in this film to seek us out to share their stories — at great risk to themselves — because they felt compelled to back up what Britney was saying with evidence they had or moments they witnessed."

"Controlling Britney Spears" promises interviews with Britney Spears' inner circle and others with knowledge of the conservatorship, including a security guard assigned to Spears who claims (in a clip from the documentary) that he was asked to delete a sensitive audio recording. Afraid of being complicit in destroying important evidence, he kept a copy of the data.

Why Everyone Wants To #FreeBritney

Conservatorships are typically reserved for elderly people and those with permanent mental disabilities that prevent them from being able to manage their own affairs. Because people under a conservatorship usually have no hope of getting better, it's very rare for someone to engage in a legal battle to free themselves from one. It's also extremely unusual for someone under a conservatorship to have a full-time job, let alone a job that generates millions of dollars in revenue every year.

This was a key point raised by Spears at her June 23 court hearing, in which she described the stifling extent to which her life is being controlled — claiming that she cannot choose to get married or even to have her IUD removed without permission. The pop star's statement shocked even those who weren't previously invested in the #FreeBritney movement, and the subsequent public pressure may well be the reason that Britney's father, Jamie Spears, has since requested to terminate his role in the conservatorship.

Judge Brenda Penny will make the final ruling over whether Jamie Spears will be removed from control of his daughter's life and finances, which is what the upcoming September 29 court hearing is about. Britney's lawyer, Mathew Rosengart, has described the singer's life under her father's control as a "Kafkaesque nightmare," and "Controlling Britney Spears" promises to shed further light on the dark corners of that nightmare.

"Controlling Britney Spears" will premiere at 10pm ET on FX and Hulu.