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Ruben, Clay in Sick Bay

That’s the word from Ruben Studdard’s rep after the second-season American Idol champ otherwise known as the Velvet Teddy Bear checked himself into a Birmingham, Alabama, hospital Monday night.

Studdard’s Los Angeles-based publicist, Liz Morentin, says the silky-voiced 26-year-old is suffering from exhaustion. Per doctors’ orders, Studdard is expected to remain hospitalized for the remainder of the week, forcing him to cancel several gigs in support of his new gospel-flavored disc, I Need an Angel, which hit stores Tuesday.

“All promotion for his new album this week has been canceled along with his concert dates in Atlantic City on November 26 and 27, which will be rescheduled,” Morentin says.

Studdard’s debut album, Soulful, sold more than 1 million copies and earned him a Grammy nomination.

His illness means the portly singer will be sidelined from doing publicity during one of the busiest shopping weeks of the year. Studdard, a native Alabaman, will also miss a performance scheduled for Wednesday on the campus of Alabama State University, a day before the school takes on rival Tuskegee.

Despite feeling wiped out over the last two weeks, the crooner did manage to tape a one-hour Fox holiday special titled

Kelly, Ruben & Fantasia: Home for Christmas. The special, scheduled to air Wednesday at 9 p.m., features all three Idol winners-Studdard, last season victor Fantasia Barrino and original Idol Kelly Clarkson-performing classic Christmas songs.

News of Studdard’s ailment comes just weeks after he announced he was giving up on his hyped made-for-TV diet. Studdard, who tips the scales at 449 pounds, was going to embark a low-carb, low-cal, medically supervised meal plan and have his efforts chronicled by Extra.

Studdard lost about 12 pounds before giving up, telling People, “I didn’t have time to go in every day to meet with a nurse like the diet required.” Instead, he said he was going to try a home-delivery meal plan instead and work out with a trainer.

It’s been a rough few days for Idol alumni. Last Thursday, Studdard’s runner-up, Clay Aiken, postponed the first three dates of his Joyful Noise Tour, originally scheduled to kick off this Nov. 21, due to “vocal cord damage resulting from ongoing ear and sinus infections.” Aiken’s rep blamed the bum pipes on a promotional tour for his new book, Learning to Sing: Hearing the Music in Your Life.

Aiken, who will headline his own TV special, NBC’s A Clay Aiken Christmas, airing Dec. 8, is expected to recuperate in time for a show Friday in Los Angeles.

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