INF; Kevin Mazur/WireImage
April 10, 2008 12:00 AM

For all the warm and fuzzy sentiments about welcoming her back, and even the ratings boost and encouraging reviews that were provided by Britney Spears‘s March 24 appearance, there’s one person who can do without the pop star’s return to How I Met Your Mother: the show’s Neil Patrick Harris.

For business reasons, nothing personal, insists the actor.

“I’m in the minority that our show does not need stunt casting in order to succeed,” Harris, 34, tells the Associated Press. “I worry that if they start Will and Grace-ing us too much, that the show will suffer. And we’re all really proud of the content of the show.”

He adds, “I mean, viewership is not our game. It’s the network and the studio’s game, you know. It’s the promotion department’s game,” he says.

Scheduled at the same time as ABC powerhouse Dancing With the Stars, “We wish we weren’t opposite an awkward reality dancing competition,” says Harris. “But we have no say about that. I just am a real fan of our content. I think we have a great show going, and I hope it’s not screwed up by the desire for 700,000 more viewers.”

Actually, Spears helped boost viewership by 1 million — attracting a total audience of 10.6 million, despite the small nature of her (much-publicized) role, as a daffy receptionist.

Among the much-sought-after 18-to-49-year-old demographic, it was the most-watched episode of the series since its debut in September 2005. —Stephen M. SilvermanINF; Kevin Mazur/WireImage

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