In a motion filed on Election Day in L.A. Superior Court, 38-year-old pop star Britney Spears is petitioning to have her father, Jamie Spears, removed from his legally mandated role as conservator of her estate, a position he’s held for a dozen years. But with $60 million at stake, it doesn’t appear Jamie will let go without a fight.
The ten-page filing by Britney’s court-appointed attorney, Samuel Ingham III, is in response to an urgent October 28 letter from Jamie’s attorney, Geraldine Wyle. Wyle informs Ingham that Britney’s business manager, Lou Taylor—CEO of Tri-Star Sports & Entertainment Group, the firm that manages the affairs of star clients such as Steven Tyler, Gwen Stefani, Priyanka Chopra, Tina Turner, and Cher—has suddenly quit the Spears account; at present, there is no one to sign checks, pay bills (Britney made over 80 trips to Target in 2018, spending $66,000 on household supplied, according to public records), collect royalties, go over contracts, or look for new deals such as the groundbreaking residency Taylor arranged for Britney at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas (the show grossed more than $100 million in ticket sales after opening in December 2013). There’s also no one to sign checks for the $1 million-plus Britney pays to maintain the many lawyers, accounts, and various fiduciaries who run her conservatorship, including a nice salary for her dad.
While Jamie is OK with his daughter’s proposal that financial services firm Bessemer Trust take over as official conservator of the Spears estate, says Wyle, the elder Spears wants to remain on board as co-conservator. Additionally, he proposes to bring in Michael Kane, who “has headed the business management team for the Estate of Michael Jackson continuously since Michael died, and was Michael’s business manager at the time of Michael’s death” to handle Britney’s “multiple active, operating business entities and multi-millions of dollars of transactions annually.”
Ingham’s somewhat irate response: “Britney and her estate will suffer loss and injury if [her father] is not suspended immediately upon the appointment of Bessemer Trust… as sole conservator of Britney’s estate.” The filing stipulates that books and records be turned over immediately, and hints that Britney will be auditing the accounting for all of the years of her dad’s tenure conservator.
ALSO BREAKING: Lou Taylor has RESIGNED as Britney Spears' business manager and her father has attempted to hire a new one without giving Britney notice. Her court-appointed rejected this and believes the power should be given to Bessemer Trust. #FreeBritney pic.twitter.com/ilTGAqFKz4
— Britney Fan (@BritneyHiatus) November 4, 2020
The ensuing brouhaha—set off by a fan posting the entire November 3 court filing to Twitter—has rallied the #FreeBritney troops. Britney’s devoted fans have long advocated the firing of Taylor and Jamie, alleging, at the least, that they have mismanaged their idol’s career and life. At worst, fans have accused the manager of all sorts of deviltry.
“Loucifer down” tweeted one fan, applauding Lou Taylor’s resignation. “Getting that horrible woman out of your career & out of your life is only a small sample of the freedom to come,” tweeted another fan. “Remember, you have an army behind you and you’re not doing any of this alone.”
The matter will come to a head at a November 10 (virtual) hearing before probate court Judge Brenda Penny, which will no doubt be watched closely by probate court reformers who say that the Spears case illustrates the dangers of conservatorships and their frequent abuse. Among those sympathetic to the #FreeBritney cause is Burbank City Council candidate Konstantine Anthony. “The #FreeBritney movement is about more than just one person,” he tweeted last August. “There is a nefarious campaign across the state to force the mentally ill into conservatorships, stripping people of their freedoms. If a rich and famous pop star can’t fight this, what hope do the poor and homeless have?”
What is certain is that the 38 year-old mother of two is showing a degree of independence for the first time in more than a decade, challenging her legally mandated restraints with an apparent confidence in her ability to handle her own affairs, or at least her intention to tend to them more closely without her father’s oversight. “I’m the happiest I’ve ever been in my life,” she said in a video shared with her fans on her Instagram this past weekend.
The #FreeBritney army is cheering her on.