First Look: MTV's 'Britney: For the record'
Three months ago, filming began on a Britney Spears documentary in which she would open up about the troubles surrounding her celebrity, her failed marriage to Kevin Federline and the rebuilding of her career as a lead-up to the release of her upcoming album "Circus." The project was finished last week.
MTV along with Spears' longtime manager Larry Rudolph screened half an hour of footage from the special for the press Thursday night in Santa Monica. It's no "Chaotic."
The first scene took place on the day Spears' latest comeback began, the day she'd take home a trio of her first-ever VMA awards. That morning her dad, Jamie Spears, prepared her favorite breakfast, Velveeta cheese grits.
At one point, Spears is asked by the filmmaker if she thinks her life is weird. "Do I think my life is weird? (Laughs) It's all I've ever known. I don't see it as weird."
But at all hours the star is shown flanked by her team, which includes Rudolph, her father, another manager, her personal assistant, bodyguards and any number of various hangers-on. She entertains her entourage by doing impressions of her dad, and gets pumped while recording tracks for her album and shooting a music video.
Most of the time, however, Spears is shown looking sullen, quiet, even disconnected. On the way to the VMAs, she's concerned about whether MTV will show footage of last year's botched comeback (the network did not). She reveals to the filmmaker that her trust has been "battered" and that she's "grown up big time." Tears well up in her eyes when she talks about how feeling lonely led to poor decisions with major consequences. "I'm sad," she says finally before bursting into tears.
If the past two years revealed Britney as a star who had lost her footing, MTV’s documentary shows Spears as a mother of two working to find her way -- even while she talks about wanting a different life. Rudolph explained to us why she continues to pursue a career in the spotlight:
Whose idea was it to do a documentary?
It evolved out of a conversation that Britney and I had five or six months ago where the big question was what she was going to do in terms of talking to the public, presenting herself to the public. She really wanted to be able to tell her story, talk about where she's been, where she is today and where she is going. She wanted to do it very honestly, but on her own terms. I think there is a part of her that is tired of allowing the media to guide her image and her story. She wanted to tell that story herself.
What was the turning point for her? When did she decided she was ready to try again?
There just came a moment where she decided to get up, brush herself off and move forward. She had hit a low point in her life. She realized that and everybody else realized that. She wanted to get to a better place.
One thing that struck me in the footage shown was that she didn’t always seem very happy. She looked sullen during quite a bit of it. Why do you think she keeps going? She's putting out another album, going on tour…
I think she keeps going because she knows there's a beginning, middle and end to this. She realizes that there are better times ahead. She's already in a much better place than she was not that long ago and she knows that she's going to be in a better place a month from now, six months from now, a year from now, etc. That's what keeps her going. She's doing what she loves right now. Every day she's found more happiness in her life.
In the documentary, she talked about how scheduled and structured her life has been. She still seems pretty busy now. How have things really changed for her?
There was a stretch where she became very unbusy in terms of her career. I think she got into some trouble because maybe she had too much free time on her hands. She likes to work. In many ways, she's defined by her career. Getting her career where she wants it to be now is a big part of who she is.
You've known her since she was a child, but at one point, Britney let you go. Now you're back working with her again. Why have you stuck by her throughout everything?
It hasn't really been a rocky relationship. The reality is we stopped working together right around when she got married to Kevin because she wanted that. She didn't want a career at that point. She wanted to have kids and take on a new phase of her life and she did. Then we got back together for a short period of time last year, which was a very difficult time for her. And really she was not in a position at that point to do what she's doing now. Then she decided it was time to pick herself up and move forward and I came back.
Was there any hesitation to continue working with her after the ups and downs?
I've known this girl for over half her life, since she was 13. We have a very close friendship, but it's sort of hard for me to explain my relationship with her. It's a friendship, it's a business relationship, there are some paternal aspects to it. We get along very well. I understand her better than everyone other than her immediate family. There's a shorthand we use in terms of dealing with each other that just works. The bottom line is I think she's amazing. I love her. She's been a big part of my life, and I've been a big part of her life. Being a part of this new phase in her career is something I was very open to.
The 90-minute special, "Britney: For the record," airs Nov. 30 at 10 p.m. on MTV.
-- Denise Martin
Photo: Britney Spears and Larry Rudolph at the 2008 MTV Video Music Awards. Credit: WireImage