Britney Spears mocked reports she was in a New York hospital after overdosing on Thursday night (13NOV03) by arriving on Jimmy Kimmel's late night chat show on a stretcher.

The pop superstar decided to play along with the rumours, but admitted that friends had been really worried about her after hearing about the apparent suicide bid.

Spears quipped, "I'm sorry I'm late. I was in New York, if you haven't already heard, in the emergency room and the ambulance just brought me here.

"Yes, I OD'd again. I can't help myself. I can't stop."

The prank prompted comic Kimmel to joke, "Maybe they confused Britney for WHITNEY."

Spears then admitted it's always best to laugh off the nasty rumours: "You really have to laugh about it and blow it off. They were really hardcore with this. All my friends were calling me: 'Oh my God, are you OK?'"

Fans feared the overdose story was accurate after hearing how the singer had broken down during an interview with newscaster Diane Sawyer, which had aired just before Kimmel's show on Thursday.

Spears confessed the interview, during which she cried while admitting the past year had been tough on her, was difficult.

She said, "She's (Sawyer) a great lady but it's her mission to make people cry and I'm really kinda upset that I broke like that.

"She's a little hardcore. She's very good at, 'I'm your friend, I'm going to be nice to you,' and then she grills you big time."

17/11/2003 09:50