“I’m so angry. It’s insane. And I’m depressed. I cry every day,” the singer explained in court Wednesday, breaking her long public silence regarding her 13-year conservatorship.
Celebrities Address Britney Spears
Popstar Britney Spears has received a massive swell of online support from celebrities and activists after speaking out against her conservatorship Wednesday, asking a court to revoke it.
Spears had been in the conservatorship, which strips her from controlling her own personal life and finances, for 13 years. While speaking to Judge Brenda Perry in an over 20-minute-long statement via phone, Spears described the conservatorship as “abusive.”
Among other things, she alleged she was not allowed to get married or have another child, as the management behind her conservatorship refused to let her remove her IUD birth control. She also said she has been forced to go on tour, undergo rehab-like treatments, and take certain medications even when she made it clear she did not want to.
“This conservatorship is doing me way more harm than good,” Spears said. “I deserve to have a life.”
Following her remarks, singer Halsey wrote that she hopes the star is “awarded freedom from this abusive system.”
Actress and television presenter Jameela Jamil called Spears’ situation “the most bizarre theft of freedom that has happened right in front of our eyes.”
Spears’ ex, singer and actor Justin Timberlake, also spoke out after the status hearing. Timberlake apologized to Spears earlier this year following the release of the explosive New York Times documentary, “Framing Britney Spears.” The film accused Timberlake of weaponizing their break-up to slut-shame Spears, ultimately contributing to the public pile-on that destroyed her reputation.
“After what we saw today, we should all be supporting Britney at this time,” Timberlake wrote on Twitter. “Regardless of our past, good and bad, and no matter how long ago it was… what’s happening to her is just not right. No woman should ever be restricted from making decisions about her own body.”
Many others used the hashtag #FreeBritney to advocate for the singer. The term is used by the larger #FreeBritney movement, which was started by a group of fans that have spent years advocating for her release. Their engagement helped bring public attention to Spears’ legal troubles.
Activists Speak Out on Reproductive Rights
Celebrities were not the only ones joining forces in speaking up for the “…Baby One More Time” singer. Reproductive and women’s rights activists were vocal about the fact that Spears was not allowed to make her own decisions when it comes to family planning.
“I have a IUD inside of myself right now so I don’t get pregnant,” Spears told Judge Penny. “I wanted to take the IUD out so I could start trying to have another baby. But this so-called team won’t let me go to the doctor to take it out because they don’t want me to have any more children.”
“We stand in solidarity with Britney and all women who face reproductive coercion,” Planned Parenthood president Alexis McGill Johnson wrote. “Your reproductive health is your own — and no one should make decisions about it for you.”
Fatima Goss Graves, the CEO and president of the National Women’s Law Center, said Spear’s case is part of a “broad conversation about the way reproductive decisions are stolen from people with disabilities.”
What Else Did Britney Say?
Spears’ conservatorship falls into two separate categories: a conservatorship of the person and of the estate. Her father, Jamie Spears, was in charge of both until 2019 when he stepped back from her personal conservatorship due to health reasons. A woman named Jodi Montgomery was named his temporary replacement and has been in the role since. He remains in charge of his daughter’s estate, and in 2020 wealth management fund Bessemer Trust was appointed as a co-conservator at Britney’s request.
Wednesday marked her first time speaking out publicly against the conservatorship, though court records reported on this week by The New York Times found that the singer had previously tried to get out of it. In 2016, a court investigator wrote a report claiming that Spears had called the conservatorship “oppressive” and “controlling.”
Spears echoed those concerns in her Wednesday statement. She told Judge Penny that the last time she addressed the court, she felt she was not “heard on any level.”
Spears said she has been forced to go to therapy two to three times a week at a facility where she is frequently photographed and harassed by paparazzi. She added that one of her longtime therapists, who has since died, “illegally” abused her in his treatment, which left her with a phobia of small rooms. At one point, she claimed she was forced to take lithium despite her strong opposition to using the drug. She also said her father forced her into a rehab facility where she was given no privacy, had to work long hours every day with no days off, and was not allowed to see her own children or boyfriend.
“The only similar thing to this is called sex trafficking,” Spears alleged.
“Not only did my family not do a goddamn thing, my dad was all for it,” she said. “Anything that happened to me had to be approved by my dad.”
“He loved the control to hurt his own daughter 100,000%. He loved it.”
Members of the #FreeBritney movement often speculated that Spears was unhappy in her arrangement. Even though the star had this massive movement in her corner, she would post to social media suggesting all was fine.
“I’ve lied and told the whole world ‘I’m okay. And I’m happy.’ It’s a lie,” she said.
“I’ve been in shock. I am traumatized,” she continued. “I’m not happy. I can’t sleep. I’m so angry. It’s insane. And I’m depressed. I cry every day.”
Spears claimed that for a long time, she had no idea she could petition to end her conservatorship, a subject she rarely approached because she found it “demoralizing.” Now, she is making it clear she wants out.
“The main reason why I’m here is because I want to revoke conservatorship without having to be evaluated,” she stated. “I’ve done a lot of research, ma’am. And there’s a lot of judges who do end conservatorships for people without them having to be evaluated all the time.”
Spears argued that she has already done enough evaluations and therapy sessions, adding that she does not owe her management or anyone else involved in the conservatorship anything else. She also asked to be able to have her boyfriend drive her in his car, and for her therapy sessions to be limited to once a week at her house.
“And I would honestly like to sue my family, to be totally honest with you,” she continued. “I also would like to be able to share my story with the world.”
Spears said she hopes to get the power to hire her own attorney, as the one currently working for her is court-appointed. She said she wants to tell her more of her story either in a sit-down interview or an open call to Judge Perry that can be accessed freely by the press.
Spears claimed that she is not the only person who is being abused in a conservatorship and argued that more needs to be done to protect people.
“I shouldn’t be in a conservatorship,” she said. “If I can work and provide money and work for myself and pay other people — it makes no sense. The laws need to change.“
See what others are saying: (New York Times) (Variety) (Pitchfork)
Billie Eilish Advocates for Climate Action Ahead of U.N. COP26 Summit
The singer was joined by “The Office” actor Rainn Wilson and other big-name celebrities and activists in a pitch for world leaders to make substantial progress at the conference.
Billie Eilish Calls for Climate Action
Singer Billie Eilish partnered Tuesday with the environmental group Arctic Basecamp at the University of Exeter to call for meaningful climate action ahead of the U.N. COP26 climate conference.
“This year our leaders are deciding the global actions required on the environment climate emergency in a critical decade for our planet,” Eilish said in a video. “We must stand together and speak up to save our planet, not just for us, but for our future generations. And we need urgent, urgent action now.”
Eilish is no stranger to advocating for solutions to climate change. In September, the “Happier Than Ever” singer urged Congress to pass climate legislation as part of the #CodeRedClimate campaign. For her latest pitch with Arctic Basecamp, she was joined by other big names, including “The Office” actor Rainn Wilson, explorer Levison Wood, climate activist Daze Aghaji, and wildlife advocate Robert Irwin, who is the son of the late Steve Irwin.
“Courage. That’s what our world’s leaders need more than anything,” Wilson said in the video message. “The decisions that they make about the climate crisis in the next decade are the most important decisions in our planet’s history.”
What is COP26?
Arctic Basecamp works with scientists and other high-profile organizations all over the world to call attention to climate issues and encourage effective solutions. It was founded by Gail Whiteman, a professor at the University of Exeter, who released a statement thanking the slew of stars and activists for their involvement in the COP26 initiative.
“It is amazing to be working with such brave people that not only are using their voice but are using their voice for good,” she said. “This is a crisis and the Arctic is sounding the alarm. It is time that world leaders come together to create real change that ensures a safe future for humanity.”
COP26 will kick off in Glasgow on Oct. 31 and run through Nov. 12. Global leaders will discuss several actions regarding the environment, including pacts like the Paris Agreement and U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change. They will also focus on a series of goals, including achieving global net-zero emissions by mid-century and protecting ecosystems, along with other infrastructure threatened by climate change.
U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has pitched the event as a key moment for the world to come together and tackle climate change. This week, he described it as “our best chance to make the changes we need to protect our planet for our children and grandchildren.”
See what others are saying: (Billboard) (CNN) (The Independent)
Dave Chappelle Says He’s Willing To Meet With Trans Community Under Certain Conditions
After being criticized for transphobic comments, the comedian said he would give an audience to the transgender community even though he is “confused” about what they would be discussing.
Dave Chappelle Addresses Netflix Employees
Comedian Dave Chappelle responded on Monday to the recent backlash he has faced for making transphobic remarks in his new Netflix stand-up special “The Closer.”
Over the past several weeks, many employees at Netflix have protested against Chappelle’s program and numerous LGBTQ+ rights groups have condemned his comments. Netflix employees staged a walkout last week to call out “The Closer” and advocate for more trans and nonbinary employees to be included at the company.
Some reports have alleged that Chappelle denied the opportunity to speak with the trans community and allies at Netflix. In a new video addressing the controversy, Chappelle refuted that allegation.
“It’s been said in the press that I was invited to speak to the transgender employees of Netflix and I refused. That is not true,” he said “If they had invited me, I would have accepted it, although I am confused about what we would be speaking about.“
“I said what I said, and boy, I heard what you said. My God, how could I not?” he continued. “You said you want a safe working environment at Netflix. It seems like I’m the only one who can’t go to the office.”
Chappelle Says He Will Meet With Trans Community
Chappelle added that he would be willing to meet with the trans community but is not “bending to anybody’s demands.”
“I have some conditions. First of all, you cannot come if you have not watched my special from beginning to end,” Chappelle explained. “You must come to a place of my choosing at a time of my choosing, and thirdly, you must admit that Hannah Gadsby is not funny.”
Gadsby is a comedian best known for her Netflix special “Nanette.” While defending Chappelle, Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos name-dropped Gadsby and “Nanette” as examples of the service’s offerings that give voice to marginalized communities. Gadsby shot back at the executive, saying she did not want him to “drag [her] name into [his] mess.”
“Now I have to deal with even more of the hate and anger that Dave Chappelle’s fans like to unleash on me every time Dave gets 20 million dollars to process his emotionally stunted partial world view,” Gadsby wrote on Instagram. “Fuck you and your amoral algorithm cult.”
During “The Closer,” Chappelle called himself “team TERF” while discussing author J.K. Rowling being “canceled” after making a series of transphobic comments herself. He said he agreed with Rowling and added that “gender is a fact.” He later made a slew of other comments, including a joke about Caitlyn Jenner and remarks comparing the genitalia of transgender women to Beyond and Impossible meat.
As outrage poured in, Sarandos released a series of statements in support of Chappelle and his artistic freedom. During his video, Chappelle thanked Sarandos, claiming that he has lost a series of opportunities amid the controversy. Chappelle recently completed a documentary that he says was going to screen at film festivals, but he is allegedly no longer welcome at those events.
“When this controversy came out about ‘The Closer,’ they began disinviting me from these film festivals, and now, today, not a film company, not a movie studio, not a film festival, nobody will touch this film,” Chapelled claimed. “Thank God for Ted Sarandos and Netflix, he’s the only one that didn’t cancel me yet.”
Chappelle later announced that he will be taking his documentary on tour to cities like San Francisco, New York, Atlanta, and Toronto.
See what others are saying: (Variety) (The Hollywood Reporter) (NPR)
Affidavit Outlines Alleged Events That Lead Up to Fatal Shooting on “Rust” Set
Before the tragic incident that resulted in the death of the film’s cinematographer, actor Alec Baldwin was allegedly assured that the gun he was handed on set was not loaded.
Details of Events Leading Up to Shooting
An affidavit alleges that actor Alec Baldwin was rehearsing a scene that involved him pointing a gun at the camera when he misfired the weapon last week, killing the production’s cinematographer, Halyna Hutchins, and injuring director Joel Souza.
Multiple outlets obtained the affidavit from the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office on Sunday. The document details the alleged events that resulted in Thursday’s tragedy on the set of “Rust.” Souza told investigators that during a firearms safety announcement, he heard the prop weapon referred to as a “cold gun,” a term that means the gun is not loaded.
According to Souza, the guns on set were usually checked by two people: armorer Hannah Guttierrez-Reed and assistant director Dave Halls. Halls was in charge of giving the guns to actors, though sources said both Guttierrez-Reed and Halls did so at various times.
The affidavit said that Halls handed the gun to Baldwin while announcing it as a “cold gun.” Investigators say investigators that Halls got the revolver from a tray set up by Gutierrez-Reed.
Souza said the crew had spent part of the day preparing for a scene in a church and later left to take a lunch break at another location. He said he was unsure if the firearm had been checked again after returning from lunch.
When the accident happened. Souza said he heard what “sounded like a whip and then loud pop.” He first noticed Hutchins grabbing her midsection and stumbling back before realizing he had been hit in the shoulder.
The incident came after six camera crew workers reportedly walked off the set in protest of unfair and unsafe working conditions. According to the affidavit, a replacement crew had quickly been hired, but production on the day of the accident was off to a late start because of related issues. Regarding general on-set behavior, Souza claimed that “everyone was getting along” and that there had been “no altercations” to his knowledge.
The affidavit’s walkout claim backed up previous reporting from The Los Angeles Times. Sources from the set of “Rust” told the outlet on Friday that half a dozen workers left the set because they were frustrated by safety issues, long hours, long commutes, and a long wait for their paychecks.
Safety Issues on Set of “Rust”
According to the report, standard industry safety protocols “were not strictly followed,” and at least one worker complained specifically about gun safety. Some sources told The Times that there had already been at least two accidental discharges of a prop gun. Around a week before the fatal accident, Baldwin’s stunt double allegedly fired two rounds after being told a gun was cold.
“There should have been an investigation into what happened,” one source told the outlet. “There were no safety meetings. There was no assurance that it wouldn’t happen again. All they wanted to do was rush, rush, rush.”
Another source told The Times that “corners were being cut” on set.
The report also claimed that Hutchins was among those advocating for her team to have safer work conditions.
Rust Movie Productions released a statement saying safety “is the top priority of Rust Productions and everyone associated with the company.”
“Though we were not made aware of any official complaints concerning weapon or prop safety on set, we will be conducting an internal review of our procedures while production is shut down,” the statement continued.
Baldwin, for his part, sent his condolences to Hutchins’ family on Friday. At the time, he said he was cooperating with the ongoing investigation.
Vigils have been held in New Mexico and Hollywood to honor Hutchins. The American Film Institute also made a memorial scholarship in her name.