Britney Spears’s fiancé, Sam Asghari, is not happy about his New York Times profile, which should surprise exactly zero people who read it.
The model, fitness buff and aspiring actor, 27, reacted to the piece, titled More Than Mr. Britney Spears, on social media Monday night apparently upset it included mentions of Spears’s conservatorship and their relationship.
“I am always learning,” he wrote. “In this case, I was surprised to find out even the most reputable publication will break a written agreement. I have no hard feelings, it just comes with the territory.”
He continued, “I have great respect for ethical journalism and every other publication in six years has honored that same agreement that [the] New York Times broke. Water under the bridge.”
His post had graphics of Pinocchio and South Park’s Cartman saying “whatever.” It also had apparent conditions to doing the interview, which stated he was able to speak about being a personal trainer and actor, but the story “would not include coverage of his fiancée or her conservatorship.”
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The news outlet stands by the story, which ran online Nov. 13 and in the style section the following day. They said they didn’t violate any agreement because they didn’t ask about Spears.
“Our reporting gives the necessary context for readers to better understand Mr. Asghari,” a New York Times spokesperson tells Yahoo Entertainment. “There were no direct questions asked about Ms. Spears or the conservatorship, which we acknowledged in our story as a condition of Mr. Asghari granting an interview and is not in violation of any agreement.”
There’s a lot of intrigue about the fitness buff, who’s been dating Spears in such a pivotal time in her life as she finally succeeded in ending her conservatorship. The pair got together in 2016, after she lapped up his spilled milk in her “Slumber Party” video. They’ve made just a handful of red carpet appearances, Spears fleeing one just moments after stepping out of the car, preferring to control what they share on social media instead — like workout videos and vacation pix.
While Asghari has been the focus of interviews, it’s always about his workouts — though, yes, they do mention he’s in a relationship with Spears. He said nothing about the conservatorship, until he put Jamie Spears on blast in February. As the legal chokehold finally became dismantled, he’s publicly supported the star’s legal victories, rocking a #FreeBritney shirt and flexing his muscles alongside his love — and new fiancée.
The NYT piece tried to get to the bottom of who Asghari is, making clear he “declined to acknowledge, by name or even oblique reference” Spears “as a condition of granting an interview.”
The profile has been called “awkward” and “scathing”— and it’s both at points. From the first line describing him a “nascent actor and erstwhile personal trainer” — you could tell it’s no puff piece.
While Asghari is observed to be “highly polite, handsome and friendly,” it suggests he has no real opinions on anything. “It was easy for me,” he said of leaving his mother and sisters in Tehran to move to the U.S. with a dad he hadn’t seen since he was a baby. “I find happiness in every job,” he replied when asking for his worst job, having rolled sushi and worked at Best Buy. “I’m closest to all of them,” was his answer when asked which of his three sisters he has the strongest bond with.
There’s no mercy for his acting with his resumé described as a series of “blink-and-you’ll-miss-it” roles — like “a character credited as ‘Sexy Santa’ in an episode of the 2021 HBO Max series Hacks. He appeared in a single scene.” You can’t help but feel it’s mocking as it’s reported how he only watches “performances, not shows” as an actor and lists recent faves as “Hugh Jackman. I watch clips of him acting. Jason Statham, I watch clips of him acting,” perhaps as if a full film may not hold his attention span.
It also took aim at his subscription service, Asghari Fitness, noting it has 1,000 subscribers paying $9 a week for content — with the paper suggesting the recipes and photos being sent out are cribbed from other websites.
The most interesting parts, for better or worse, are about Asghari’s team. Much of the story is devoted to what total characters his publicist, Brandon Cohen, and creative director, Maxi, are.
For instance, they “understood the interview to have different start times; according to one of the timelines, a photographer, who arrived for the shoot exactly on time, was either 45 or 90 minutes late. At one point, Maxi declared that the hourlong interview would take 15 minutes.”
There’s one long paragraph devoted to Maxi’s many interruptions during the interview. For instance, how while Asghari “was in the middle of a sentence,” Maxi began dabbing “at his lips with a Baby Phat Pink Rose Gold Glitter Hydrogel under-eye mask.” Maxi often answered to questions posed to Asghari, “some of which Mr. Asghari disagreed with,” and each time after an interruption told the reporter to “delete, delete, delete” whatever he was saying.
At another point, Maxi called off a planned hook for the article — Asghari doing stunt demonstrations — after learning the interview contained no video component even though there had never been a video component.
The article said, “At the suggestion that the essence of the stunts, as well as specific maneuvers, could be described in writing and then pictured by the reader, Maxi voiced strong doubt, ‘because I have a vivid imagination,’ he said, and ‘I can’t visualize it’ — and his dubiousness meant that the stunt demonstration was never attempted.”
There’s been support and criticism for the profile on social media — and the timing of it no doubt is a factor. The profile, painting Asghari as bland and his team chaotic, ran just a day after Spears’s conservatorship finally ended — and in an outlet that’s been so influential in helping to #FreeBritney.