Ruben Studdard is hospitalized for exhaustion. The ''Idol'' champ, who recently went off his diet, will have to miss several performances and promotional appearances

By Gary Susman
Updated November 24, 2004 at 05:00 AM EST

Ruben Studdard’s new album, released Tuesday, is called I Need an Angel, but what the crooner really needs is some rest. So said J Records spokeswoman Liz Morentin, who said in a statement that the 26-year-old American Idol champ had been hospitalized for exhaustion Monday night in his hometown of Birmingham, Ala. Studdard, who last week taped a Christmas special with fellow Idol winners Kelly Clarkson and Fantasia Barrino (it airs Wednesday night on Fox), will be sidelined for at least the rest of the week. That will force him to miss several promotional opportunities, during a crucial shopping week, to plug his new release, including concerts on Nov. 26 and 27 in Atlantic City, which Morentin says will be rescheduled.

The Velvet Teddy Bear, who weighs in these days at 449 pounds, recently announced that he was going off his televised diet, after losing 12 pounds, because his schedule didn’t permit him to meet with a nurse every day as the diet required. (TV’s Extra had planned to chronicle his weight loss.) He said he would try a home-delivery meal plan instead and work out with a personal trainer.

Ruben’s Idol runner-up, Clay Aiken, has also been plagued with health woes at a time when he has projects to promote (his book Learning to Sing: Hearing the Music in Your Life and his holiday album Merry Christmas with Love). Citing a sinus infection, he postponed the first three dates of his Joyful Noise tour, which will now begin on Nov. 26 in Costa Mesa, Calif. Aiken also found time recently to tape a holiday special, A Clay Aiken Christmas, which airs Dec. 8 on NBC.