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tv   Nightline  ABC  February 26, 2021 12:37am-1:06am PST

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"nightline" is next. thanks for watching all the way to the end. you didn't have to, most do, so i thank you and wish you a very good night. this is "nightline." >> tonight, why fans want to free britney. >> free britney! >> calling the controversial conservativeship toxic. ♪ toxic ♪ >> now her father's lawyer with his side of the story. >> the people have it so wrong. jamie saved britney's life. >> and the new documentary raising fresh questions about the life of the princess of pop. carving a path to success. how this barrier-breaking figure skater brings innovation and inspiration on and off the ice. >> i think sports can be leaders in change and for social justice. and the united effort to vaccinate everyone in the world. >> what do you think about the
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juju chang. >> reporter: britney spears in a playful moment with her family. riding a bike with her niece. her father, jamie, in the beard, there. these videos shared exclusively with abc news by jamie's attorney, vivienne th orion, show the spears family together during the pandemic. >> i understand that every story needs a villain. but people have it so wrong here. this is a story about a fiercely loving, dedicated, and loyal father who rescued his daughter from a life-threatening situation. >> reporter: the relationship between the princess of pop and her father coming under renewed scrutiny as the "free britney" continues calling for the end to her conservatorship. >> a functioning woman that has been working nonstop, it doesn't
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make sense. >> reporter: the grassroots movement and the inner workings of the conservatorship arrangement highlighted in a recent "new york times"/fx documentary "framing britney spears" which re-examines the superstar's rise and public fall through today's lens. now her father, jamie spears, who was placed in charge of her career, her finances, and her health decisions in 2008 when she was just 26, responding through his lawyer, vivian thoreen, in an exclusive interview with my colleague, amy robach. >> jamie saved britney's life. over the last 13 years, he has worked tirelessly to protect her. he has collaborated with her to help her regain custody of her children. he has brought her finances back from disaster. and he's created a safe environment for her to live her life the way she wants, away from the media that caused her so much pain. ♪ show me how you want it ♪
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>> reporter: britney spears was 16 when she catapulted to stardom with "baby one more time." >> she came across as this strong young high school student in her first video. she was very pretty and sexy. a late teenager. and that was an image that she built on over the next several years, and she became one of the biggest stars in the world. ♪ oops i did it again ♪ >> reporter: releasing one mega-hit after another. "oops i did it again" in 2000. "toxic" in 2003. ♪ you know that you're toxic ♪ >> reporter: within years the girl next door from kentwood, louisiana, had become a household name. 2007, life in the spotlight seeming to take a toll. the young mother of two appeared to struggle amidst divorce, custody battle, and continued media scrutiny. >> video of britney spears with a shaved head circulate over the internet. >> reporter: under the
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relentless flash of cameras she took a pair of clippers to her own hair at a los angeles salon. >> the way she was treated by the media, the way that the tabloids talked about her, the way that the paparazzi would not leave her alone. people tend to lash out when there's that kind of pressure on them. and she did. >> reporter: later that year, an infamous performance at the mtv video music awards. ♪ ♪ >> reporter: what seemed to be a public unraveling coming to a head in an altercation with paparazzi in l.a. >> i go to the car. i tell britney, hey, britney. all i'm going to do is i'm just going to ask you a couple of questions. and then i'm going to leave you alone. and coming up to me, please, please -- >> stop, guys. please, guys. >> britney grabbed the umbrella, started coming after me, started
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beating the passenger side of my truck. >> we call this "framing britney spears." one of the reasons is because there's these frames that everybody remembers when they talk about her, when she shaved her head, when she hit the car with an umbrella. >> she was going out visiting kevin federline at his home. the kids meant the world to britney, and she wanted to see her kids. kevin said no. >> part of the reason we wanted to do the film was pull back from that frame and show you what's outside of it. and one of the things we found is that she was going through a custody battle during this time. >> reporter: that following year, after two hospitalizations, britney's father, jamie, assumed control over his daughter's estate, along with an outside trust. >> i don't think people really know what conservatorship is, as much attention as it's gotten in recent months. i don't think people knew that it was weird for a young person to be under one, let alone be under one for 13 years. >> reporter: 13 years later, the
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court mandated conservatorship still in effect, denying the 39-year-old control of her estate, prompting the question, why? >> if britney, through her lawyer, is asking jamie, her father, not be a part of her conservatorship, why does jamie still then insist on being her conservator? >> jamie serves as britney's conservator because he loves her. he wants the best for britney. >> reporter: jamie's attorneys say court documents show that when he stepped in as conservator in 2008, britney's assets were only worth $2.8 million. they say he has worked with his daughter to increase her net worth to nearly $60 million in 2019. >> britney's assets were clearly being mismanaged and she was being taken advantage of financially by some of those around her. ♪fy said i want your body ♪ >> reporter: since 2008, britney has released four albums. ♪ would you hold it against me ♪ >> reporter: starred on a primetime show. >> i felt like i had a connection with you the moment you started singing.
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>> reporter: even hosted her own las vegas residency. but she has not performed professionally since 2018, abruptly canceling her las vegas residency the following year, saying her dad was sick and she needed to focus on family. fans now turning to the performer's instagram account for behind-the-scenes glimpses into her life and hints about her well-being. including dance videos, messages to fans. >> i pulled out all of my jackets, and the next day it was really hot, it was very confusing. >> reporter: and last november her attorney telling a judge, my client has informed me she is afraid of her father, adding, she will not perform again if her father is in charge of her career. can you explain why britney's lawyer is saying she doesn't want her dad in charge of her finances anymore? >> throughout 2020, britney and her father had many conversations. and in fact, early on in the
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pandemic, they spent two weeks with other family members hunkered down in louisiana. they spent a lot of time together. and in that time, britney never expressed those words to her father. she's never asked him to step aside. >> why she wouldn't go on social media and say, hey, guys, i don't need to be freed? >> any time britney wishes to end her conservatorship, she can have her attorney file a petition to terminate it. she's never exercised this right in the past 13 years. >> free britney! >> reporter: for members of the "free britney" movement like dustin strand, the question remains, what really is happening in britney's life? >> tomorrow we have our "free britney" rally. >> free britney, whoo! >> reporter: for years, strand has traveled from phoenix to los angeles -- >> britney, we're here to support you. we've known for a long time this conservatorship has been the ne conservatorship hearing is expected in march.
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a fight about which britney herself remains publicly silent. >> our thanks to jaw ju. coming up, one of the new faces of figure skating. nicorette® knows, quitting smoking is freaking hard. you get advice like: try hypnosis... or... quit cold turkey are you kidding me?! instead, start small. with nicorette®. which can lead to something big. start stopping with nicorette® does your vitamin c last twenty-four hours? only nature's bounty does. new immune twenty-four hour plus has longer lasting vitamin c. plus, herbal and other immune superstars. only from nature's bounty.
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one canadian figure skater is using natural ice and routines to express his identity and carving a path to help others uniquely their own. >> reporter: they're the rapt
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eleva captivating images of a figure skater turned social media phenom, spinning and cutting into the wild ice, flanked by the majestic mountains of alberta, canada. >> i'm out there nature skating on ice. i truly am connected to the now. >> reporter: his videos, viewed hundreds of thousands of times. the 30-year-old is quickly becoming one of the most recognizable faces of the sport, shattering norms, infusing his own blend of pop culture, athleticism, and activism. mesmerizing with his signature backflips. and killer jump combinations. >> my dad's from africa, west africa. my mom's from russia. emigrating to canada at age 2, it was very much growing up in a lot of underserved communities. started skating at the age of 6. >> reporter: he was raised on the ice, but he says he never fully felt at home. >> i identified with rappers,
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withtis, w p-hopers, breakdaer basketball players, football players. identified with a lot of athletes and artists that look like me but that were not within the figure skating realm. i didn't see that in skating. >> reporter: his skating career a series of emotional ups and downs. >> the journey was a lot of beautiful moments and a lot of very difficult moments to deal with. i really view my skating career as, you know, as an incredible learning curve and learning opportunity for me to grow, not only as an athlete but as a human being. >> growing up being a figure skater, i rarely saw diversity on the ice. what do you think that is? >> the lack of representation i think is something that doesn't allow for a young boy or young girl from the black community to look at the sport and truly feel they could be part of it.
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there's accessibility to rinks. a lot of underserved communities don't have rinks. on top of that, the sport is extremely expensive. >> reporter: since the first winter olympics in 1924, only two out of the 271 medals awarded for figure skating are held by black skaters. now he's found a calling in carving a space for more representation in his beloved sport, cocreating the figure skating diversity inclusion allian alliance. >> black people don't skate, they play basketball, track. >> reporter: helping to not only raise awareness but funding as well. >> i think this is one of the most important steps we need to do within our community is heal some of the experiences that we've had and have a space where it's safe to do that. there's a lot of obstacles in the way for a skater of color. we're committed to seeing more representation in the sport, and we're committed to increasing accessibility for these skaters.
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>> how do you feel like sports, figure skating, can play a role in social justice? >> yeah, i mean, sports are, you know, microcosms of society. and so, you know, i think -- i think sports can be leaders in change and for social justice. i've seen a lot of sports step up. i've seen a lot of national sports organizations step up. i've seen a lot of athletes step up. i think -- i think it's a beautiful thing to see. >> reporter: and he's weaving that message into his craft. following the death of george floyd and the racial reckoning, elage's performances have become an artistic expression for the movement for change. what motivated you? >> to live in a better world. a world where you see unity. you see people that operate from a space of love and not from a space of fear. >> our thanks to ariel.
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finally tonight, a global perspective on some of the biggest issues we're facing today. here again is my "nightline" coanchor juju chang. >> reporter: secretary-general antonio guterres spearheading the united nations response to every major global crisis since he took office this 2017. as the pandemic ravaged the globe, guterres front and center advocating for increased testing and equal access to vaccines for nations rich or poor. >> we called it the biggest moral test before the global economy. what do you think about the fact that 130 countries haven't had a single dose? >> this is a suicidal approach for everybody. we see now a virus that is mutating. and the more the virus spreads, the more it changed. and when it changes, it can become more deadly, more transmissible, but worst, more resistant to vaccines. so if you vaccinate your country
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but forget to vaccinate other countries, and the other countries, the virus mutates, it will come back in a way your vaccines might no longer be relevant. this is the moment i think we need a global vaccination plan. and those that must lead it must be those that have the power and the resources. >> reporter: among guterres' other major priorities, urgent action on climate change. a report just released by the u.n. paints a startling picture of a planet in decline, roughly 9 million people die from pollution every year. the u.n. climate report is being described as the starkest report yet on the environment. i'm curious. the u.s. has just this month rejoined the paris climate accords. how do you counter this feeling among everyday people that perhap it's too late? >> it's not too late. on the contrary. we are on time. but we need to do it quickly. and some people say, look, i mean, there is so much cold temperature in texas, probably
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there is no global warming. the worst of climate change is not only the warming, it's that everything is becoming more extreme. the hurricanes, snowstorms, heat waves. everything is more extreme. >> if it's not too late, what are the most effective policies you see going forward? >> i see the technology on all sides. today it's cheaper to produce energy based on renewables than based on coal or on other fossil fuels. but of course, we need to do this transition with justice. some industries will disappear. but we need to take care of the people that are involved in those industries. so we need -- let's promote the green economy, but let's support those that are lose iing by the effect the old economy is phasing out. >> reporter: as the world evolves, guterres says an epidemic of misinformation is giving rise to fear and hate. what can be done, in your view, to fight that kind of disinformation that seems to be
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at the core of all of this gi divisi divisiveness? >> first of all, truth. and i think the media has a key role to play. we need to re-establish our strong, global commitment to truth. to use truth as the basis for trust. and the problem of today's world is the lack of trust. the lack of trust between people and government, the lack of trust between countries, the lack of trust between institutions. this lack of trust this undermining, is undermining our capacity to prevent conflicts, our capacity to solve conflicts, the capacity to deal with covid, the capacity to fight climate change. >> our thanks to juju. that's "nightline" this evening. watch full episodes on hulu. see you right back here same time tomorrow. thanks for the company, america. good night.
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