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Update: Neil Patrick Harris clarifies his Britney Spears remarks, AP then clarifies its story

Neilpatrickharris_dl

Neilpatrickharris_dlIn an exclusive statement,
Neil Patrick Harris responds to the Associated Press article that suggested he would like Britney Spears banned from the set of his CBS sitcom How I Met Your Mother. “It seems that yesterday a writer took some quotes of mine and
speculated an opinion about their intent. I write to you to set the
record straight,” the actor says. “Britney did a great job on the show. She
really did. In fact, we are all hoping that she returns rather soon to
reprise her role as Abby.”

Spears guest starred as a lovestruck receptionist on the March 24 episode, which earned the series’ highest ratings in the 18-49 demographic in its three seasons on the air. The appearance also garnered remarkably strong reviews for the troubled pop star. In the AP story, however, Harris was quoted as saying, “I’m in the minority that our show does not need stunt casting in order to succeed…. I worry that if they start Will & Grace-ing us too much, that the show will suffer.” Now he tells EW.com that he would welcome Spears back — because he has “great faith” in the show’s producers and writers. He also says, “My job description is to act, and I should really do just that.”

At first, the AP stood by its story. “I respect his right to change his stance,” said AP entertainment editor Jesse Washington, “but… Neil Patrick
Harris told us unequivocally that he did not believe that Britney should be on
the show.” But by late Friday, April 11, the AP seemed to have changed its tune.  “We’re issuing a clarification to our story,” Washington said in a statement. “Harris did not say that he opposed a return engagement for Spears, and our lede said that he did.”

Harris’ full statement appears after the jump.

“It seems that yesterday a writer took some quotes of mine and
speculated an opinion about their intent. I write to you to set the
record straight.

“As I have said all along, Britney did a great job on the show. She
really did. In fact, we are all hoping that she returns rather soon to
reprise her role as Abby. Look, that episode garnered our highest
ratings of the season — I would never ignore or disrespect that fact. I
am just very protective of our show, and its content. I have a high
standard of quality, and hope to maintain it on every level. Television
is big business, I understand that. I have great faith in our casting
department, as well as [Twentieth Century Fox Television] and CBS, to
find the appropriate person for every role on our show. I was remiss in
speculating otherwise. My job description is to act, and I should
really do just that.

“Britney Spears fits into our make-believe world very well — if she
chose to return I can only imagine that Carter [Bays], Craig [Thomas],
and the rest of the writers would create a humdinger of a storyline for
her. We should be so lucky.” (Additional reporting by Whitney Pastorek and Adam B. Vary)

“It seems that yesterday a writer took some quotes of mine andspeculated an opinion about their intent. I write to you to set therecord straight.

“As I have said all along, Britney did a great job on the show. Shereally did. In fact, we are all hoping that she returns rather soon toreprise her role as Abby. Look, that episode garnered our highestratings of the season — I would never ignore or disrespect that fact. Iam just very protective of our show, and its content. I have a highstandard of quality, and hope to maintain it on every level. Televisionis big business, I understand that. I have great faith in our castingdepartment, as well as [Twentieth Century Fox Television] and CBS, tofind the appropriate person for every role on our show. I was remiss inspeculating otherwise. My job description is to act, and I shouldreally do just that.

“Britney Spears fits into our make-believe world very well — if shechose to return I can only imagine that Carter [Bays], Craig [Thomas],and the rest of the writers would create a humdinger of a storyline forher. We should be so lucky.” (Additional reporting by Whitney Pastorek and Adam B. Vary)

Originally posted April 11 2008 — 11:26 PM EDT

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