Producer: Ruben's Weight Not an Issue

updated 05/20/2003 at 12:00 AM EDT

originally published 05/20/2003 3:24PM

Contrary to earlier reports elsewhere, neither "American Idol" contender Ruben Studdard nor his prospective record label is concerned with the weighty issue of the FOX show contestant's large frame.

Speaking to New York's Daily News, a spokeswoman for record producer Clive Davis's RCA Music Group (which produces CDs with "Idol" winners) shot down a Web report that Davis is worried about Studdard's weight -- in the wake of speculation that severe weight fluctuations and obesity may have contributed to the recent life-threatening stroke suffered by Grammy legend Luther Vandross, 52.

Studdard, 25, is said to tip the scales at 360 lbs.

"It's a ludicrous slant to put on the story," said the rep. "Ruben is an incredible artist, and we would be thrilled to work with him."

The comment comes just as Studdard and the other last man standing, wire-thin Clay Aiken, 24, duke it out this week to see who finishes No. 1 with "Idol" viewers.

The final decision will be announced Wednesday -- though it has been widely assumed that, owing to their immense popularity, both guys will end up with lucrative recording contracts.

For his part, Studdard has made it clear that issues about his size don't weigh him down.

"It's cool being a big guy," the News quotes Studdard as telling reporters last week. (Studdard and Aiken grace the cover of this week's PEOPLE.)

"I've never been shy about my size, and I want to show other people of a large stature that they can be part of this earth as well."

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