- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Changing his tune

“How I Met Your Mother” star Neil Patrick Harris wants to set the record straight: “Britney did a great job on the show.

“In fact, we are all hoping that she returns rather soon to reprise her role,” he said in a statement to Entertainment Weekly’s Web site about Miss Spears’ cameo on the hit CBS sitcom.

Mr. Harris was responding to a story featuring earlier comments he made to Associated Press, the news collective said yesterday. Asked in that interview, “Why does such a gem of a show need Britney to get any attention?” he responded, “I’m in the minority that our show does not need stunt casting in order to succeed.”

However, in his Friday statement, the former star of “Doogie Howser, M.D.” said “a writer took some quotes of mine and speculated an opinion about their intent.” The original AP story stated that Mr. Harris believed Miss Spears should not appear on the program anymore.

“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 [20th Century Fox Television] and CBS, to find the appropriate person for every role on our show. I was remiss in speculating otherwise.”

Miss Spears has been the most high-profile guest star on “Mother,” following appearances by Mandy Moore, Enrique Iglesias and Heidi Klum. Her well-reviewed March 24 cameo as a bubbly receptionist drew 10.6 million viewers, up 1 million from the previous week. The show has averaged 8 million viewers per episode this season, including reruns, AP reports.

‘Survivor’ preps for HD

“Survivor” contestants will soon be outwitting, outplaying and outlasting one another in a more realistic view when the eight-year-old reality competition series is upgraded to high definition.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, next fall’s 17th outing will be the first time the show’s exotic locations, elaborate challenges and gruesome bug bites will be available in the widescreen HD format.

CBS announced the production upgrade at the National Association of Broadcasters convention in Las Vegas on Sunday.

“Shooting in high definition gives our production team tools for storytelling beyond what was previously possible and will give our loyal audience an enhanced viewing experience,” said Ghen Maynard, executive vice president for alternative programming at CBS Paramount Entertainment Group.

“The locations and natural elements [of ‘Survivor’] have always served as another character in the show and an important part of the competition. With HD, viewers will feel as if they are on location instead of in their living room.”

The first programs to adopt HD were highly rated sports events such as the Super Bowl and scripted dramas that attracted affluent demographics such as NBC’s “The West Wing” and HBO’s “The Sopranos.”

In recent years, top-shelf reality shows have gotten in on the act. Fox introduced “American Idol” and ABC debuted “Dancing With the Stars” in standard definition, then upgraded the shows to HD once they proved popular enough to warrant the additional production cost.

CBS has not announced plans to upgrade its other reality travelogue, “The Amazing Race,” but having the higher-rated “Survivor” go HD should be an encouraging sign for “Race” fans.

Mrs. O on TV show

Democratic presidential contender Barack Obama’s wife, Michelle, will make her first late-night TV appearance tonight on “The Colbert Report.”

She’ll join host Stephen Colbert at the 900-seat Zellerbach Theatre at the Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia as part of the show’s week-long coverage of the Pennsylvania primary.

According to TVWeek.com, other guests scheduled to appear on “Report” this week — seen Monday through Thursday at 11:30 p.m. — are Democratic Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, and musical entertainers the Roots and John Legend.

Also tonight …

Deion & Pilar: Prime Time Love (10:30 p.m. Oxygen): Ozzy Osbourne did it. So did Danny Bonaduce and Kiss frontman Gene Simmons. Now former NFL standout Deion Sanders is joining the reality-show ranks with this eight-episode series premiering tonight. The show will capture everyday domestic bliss for Neon Deion — the former National Football League star, major-league outfielder and, nowadays, sportscaster — along with his model-actress wife Pilar Biggers and their five children as they make their home in tiny Prosper, Texas, in a 40,000-square-foot mansion on a 112-acre ranch. Viewers can witness such riveting fare as Mr. Sanders relaxing on the living room couch while his wife urges him to help a little more around the house.

Compiled by Robyn-Denise Yourse from staff, Web and wire reports.

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