Britney Spears has shot two videos for singles from her latest album, Femme Fatale. She is currently in rehearsals for a demanding 28-date arena tour. She spends time with her two young sons. But her own parents say she is not mentally capable to testify in court.
According to a stunning story in the Hollywood Reporter, Spears' ex-manager Sam Lutfi is still pursing a lawsuit against the star's mother, Lynne, for making what he claims are defamatory statements in her book, Through the Storm. Lynne Spears blamed Lutfi for a large part of her daughter's public mental breakdown, alleging he kept Spears drugged and isolated. Lutfi says it's not true, and wants Spears to give a deposition in the case. Since her parents say she can't do it, he wants Spears to undergo a psychiatric evaluation to prove she can.
Britney has been living under a conservatorship since early 2008, which means her father, Jamie, has complete control over her legal and financial affairs. The conservatorship is built on the assumption that Spears is not mentally capable enough to take care of herself. And it has earned everybody in Camp Spears lots and lots and lots of money. But according to folks familiar with such matters, Britney should never have been subjected to such a restrictive arrangement in the first place: "It is designed, ideally, to protect people who are seriously ill," Jenny Eliscu told Rolling Stone after writing a cover story on Spears in 2008. "We're talking about people who are non compos mentis, according to the lawyers I consulted, or they're in a vegetative state. Or they're just so old that they can't take care of themselves anymore."
So Britney is either so unwell she shouldn't be paraded around in public, or she is actually well enough to have her conservatorship lifted. As it stands now, though, her team is arguing she is fit enough to work, but not healthy enough to speak up in court.
Lutfi finds that fishy, too. According to THR, he's identified a live radio interview on Ryan Seacrest's show, the half-hour MTV documentary I Am the Femme Fatale, and her upcoming tour as providing "evidence [of] coherent and logical thinking, responsiveness to questions, and mental competence." Fans and journalists who have observed the strange promotion of Femme Fatale, however, may beg to differ a little -- Britney has done no magazine interviews other than emailed Q&As, and appeared only in tightly controlled situations (Good Morning America, Seacrest's show) where she's been asked the most basic, obviously pre-approved questions. And she's provided dully rudimentary answers, too, failing to show off the quirky personality that endeared her to fans just a few years ago (remember, her hobbies now include walks and working out). She's exhibited a mental disconnect during performances, too.
Of course, nobody can really judge Spears' mental health other than a court-approved psychiatrist, and the results of such an exam could shake up what is now a very profitable business. Spears' parents can't have it both ways -- and if they think their daughter is OK enough to make them piles of cash but not well enough to speak for herself, they're the ones who are mentally unfit.
[Photo: Jean Baptiste Lacroix/WireImage.com]