NEW YORK — Britney the Trainwreck showed how she can still be Britney the Performer.
Britney Spears made her much-hyped guest appearance Monday night's "How I Met Your Mother," submersing her tumultuous personal life and portraying a sweet-natured receptionist, Abby, with a crush on unlucky-in-love Ted (Josh Radnor).
Problem is: Ted only has eyes for Abby's boss Stella (Sarah Chalke), a dermatologist. Ted's goal: to win a date by his 10th session with Stella. Nothing's working.
Finally, he figures: "The receptionist _ that's my way in."
So he brings Abby coffee in a bid to impress Stella, but it charms Abby even more. During one visit, Abby trails him and Stella into an office to deliver a book _ a self-help tome called "The Power of Me" _ that he left behind in the waiting room.
The 26-year-old pop star, who previously was on a 2006 episode of "Will and Grace," appeared fresh-faced and relaxed, capably filling the small role. She was also the host and musical guest on "Saturday Night Live" in 2000.
Of course, she's made news in recent months not for being Britney the Performer but for her split with ex-husband Kevin Federline in late 2006, their subseqent custody battle, Spears' bizarre behavior and two hospitalizations.
Spears' cameo on the CBS sitcom may mark the beginnings of a more successful comeback attempt than last September's MTV Video Music Awards.
She remains under the conservatorship of her father, James.
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