Ruben is hospitalized; Clay is sick.

Ruben is hospitalized; Clay is sick.
There must be some kind of American Idol 2 bug going around, as both its winner and its runner-up have canceled events this week because of illness. Ruben “was in his Alabama hometown Monday night when he fell ill and was taken to the hospital, said Liz Morentin of J Records,” according to the AP. As E! points out, “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.” But Ruben “[gave] up, telling People, ‘I didn’t have time to go in every day to meet with a nurse like the diet required.'” His new CD I Need an Angel was released yesterday, but he won’t be doing promotion for it this week because of his illness. Meanwhile, Clay Aiken pushed back the start of his tour by canceling the first three dates, undoubtedly sending thousands of Claymates in Pasadena, Phoenix, and El Cajon, Calif., into pre-holiday depression and bouts of uncontrollably vomiting. Because of “vocal chord damage from ear and sinus infection,” which was aggravated on his book tour (where he was promoting Learning to Sing), his tour will start instead on Friday in Costa Mesa, Calif, the AP reports. Clay’s CD Merry Christmas With Love was released last week.

The Sing-Off loses its star

Ben Folds

NBC's super-fun December a capella singing competition The Sing-Off is returning, but without its star judge, Ben Folds, and only as a two-hour special. Those are really depressing changes for a series that proved itself to be a super-fun show when it returned last December.

A film director talks about becoming a reality TV character

Anna Martemucci

What is it like to have your life turned into reality TV? Director Anna Martemucci, one of the two directors featured on Starz' exceptional reality series, talks about that, the competition, and her collaboration with her husband and brother-in-law.

Plus: How the show's producers tried to keep the $250,000 competition fair.

about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.