Britney Spears sang “hit me baby, one more time” to fans, but last year she sang a different tune into a digital camera. Now UPN is fashioning dozens of hours of her home-video footage into a five-episode reality series being rushed on the air Tuesday (9 p.m. ET/PT) to give the network an extra push to end the regular TV season.
The show offers no breaking news about Spears and Kevin Federline, her former backup dancer turned husband, who also took turns behind the camera.
And the show probably won’t even mention Spears’ newly revealed pregnancy.
Instead, Britney and Kevin: Chaotic promises “personal” glimpses of an eight-month span last year, shortly after they met, from last spring’s European tour to the couple’s September wedding.
What’s unusual is the source material.
“Other reality shows have followed Farrah or followed Paris and Nicole,” executive producer Susan Zirinsky says. “This didn’t set out to be a reality show; it became one after the fact.”
Spears and Federline used a digital video camera to record a diary of her tour and their budding romance. She interviews her assistant, bodyguards and other members of her entourage, and turns the camera on herself, sitting in a makeup chair. Federline also gets into the act, filming Spears.
“It’s almost as if the camera is part of the relationship,” Zirinsky says. “At first, it’s a goof; it’s a vehicle for fun.” But later it’s like therapy: “She sort of steps back and is scared of her relationship, scared of committing, and he tries to help. Sometimes it’s easier to ask a question when you’re looking into a viewfinder.”
The footage won’t win awards. “Some of it’s really shaky,” says Zirinsky, who is executive producer of CBS’ 48 Hours newsmagazine but also has dabbled in entertainment specials, including Friday’s Elvis by the Presleys on CBS.
And though 90% of the show is culled from the couple’s footage, UPN shot interviews with Spears and Federline, separately and together, to stitch together the chronological story. Both are credited as executive producers.
On her Web site, Spears says the series is a response to “constant rumors and inaccurate speculation about our lives together. I feel that last year the tabloids ran my life, and I am really excited about showing my fans what really happened.”
Says Zirinsky: “I think people don’t know who she really is. She doesn’t feel sorry for herself. But no one is going to be able to walk away from this and not think she’s adorable. This is raw, and this is very much her story.”
After premiering with a one-hour episode Tuesday, the series will air half-hour editions for three weeks before wrapping up with an hour-long finale planned for June 14. The episodes will repeat on either MTV or VH1 a week after their UPN run. Thanks ubritney.com for the heads up.