Cheyenne RoundtreeSat, 13 February 2021, 5:09 am
The New York Times’ documentary Framing Britney Spears has been out for a week now, leading to renewed calls for her controversial conservatorship to be scrapped and fresh speculation about her cryptic Instagram posts.
But the lingering conversation has been on how the people around Spears, even from when she was little, diminished, mistreated, and even possibly exploited her.
There is Star Search host Ed McMahon who, following a spirited musical performance, pestered a 10-year-old Spears about her “adorable, pretty eyes” and whether she has a boyfriend. Or Justin Timberlake’s decision to paint himself as the victim following their very public breakup, all while crudely bro-ing out with hosts who asked if they had slept together and famously using a Spears lookalike in his music video for “Cry Me a River.” (After much online backlash, Timberlake delivered a halfhearted apology to Spears and Janet Jackson on Friday.)
Another odious character in the Spears saga is her former associate Sam Lutfi, who had a habit of “attaching himself to celebrities, often at vulnerable moments,” the documentary claims. He entered Spears’ world in October of 2007, a few months after the singer shaved her head and took an umbrella to a paparazzo’s truck. Spears’ mother accused Lutfi of moving into her daughter’s home and taking “control of her life, home and finances,” in a 2008 motion that sought a restraining order against him.
Then there’s Spears’ father Jamie, whose motives for refusing to relinquish control of his daughter’s conservatorship (even as she is fighting him in court) are questioned throughout the documentary. When asked to talk about Daddy Spears, the pop star’s former manager Kim Kaiman said he only had one thing on his mind when she signed her deal: “My daughter is going to be so rich, she’s going to buy me a boat.”
“That’s all I’m going to say about Jamie,” Kaiman added.
Of course, there’s the outsized role the media, tabloids, and paparazzi played throughout the rise and fall of Spears. TV hosts felt entitled to ask about her breasts, openly mock her, and question if she was a fit mother. Paparazzi tailed her constantly, even when she had her baby kids in tow. Photographer Daniel Ramos admitted it was like getting caught up in a spider web, explaining they didn’t “really see what the celebrity is going through.”
But there’s a notable figure missing from the documentary.
Adnan Ghalib was one of the paparazzi members who hounded Spears’ every move—that is, until he ended up on the opposite end of the lens when they bizarrely began dating shortly before her conservatorship was put in place.
When contacted by The Daily Beast to get his take on the documentary, Ghalib claimed that he hadn’t seen it and had no plans to. He blasted the media’s “well-being stories,” saying everyone was “complicit” in what had happened, adding concern for Spears is “a tad bit late.”
But it seems Ghalib had forgotten his own role in Spears’ story.https://www.youtube.com/embed/xXG28S8cAJU
The two began a relationship in December 2007 just after her split from husband Kevin Federline, much to the dismay of those closest to Spears. Her cousin and former assistant Alli Sims told US Weekly she disapproved of British-born Ghalib.
“I don’t know him,” she reportedly told the outlet in January of 2008. “I only know who he is through him following us for the last eight months. I do not think Adnan is a good person; I think he only has bad intentions. He has always given me a weird feeling and creeped me out. I wish he would just go away.”
The new couple was spotted all over Los Angeles, often with Ghalib leading a disheveled-looking Spears in oversized sunglasses through a throng of paparazzi, which a few months beforehand he would have been in the thick of.
But Spears was placed under a psychiatric hold at a California hospital twice during the month of January 2008 alone, the first time after she’d had a face-off with police over a custody issue involving her two young sons.
It was reported Ghalib was there during the second incident that led to an ambulance taking Spears to the hospital. He was driving in a car with Spears’ mother shortly after she was taken away.
Her father Jamie Spears filed for an emergency “temporary conservatorship” with L.A. County Superior Court following her second hospitalization.
It would take until the end of the year for the conservatorship to be made permanent, but it seemed Ghalib was largely out of Spears’ life by the summer.