Ruben Studdard Enlists Mario Winans For Third LP

'Idol' winner returns to R&B, may appear in upcoming movie.

LOS ANGELES — The breakneck pace at which contestants learn new songs on "American Idol" has stayed with Ruben Studdard.

Less than two years after winning the second season, the Birmingham, Alabama, singer is already midway through his third album.

"I just left New York the other day working with Mario Winans, so you know it's gonna be a big record," Studdard said of his collaboration with the Bad Boy singer and producer, whose credits include Destiny's Child and Mary J. Blige.

While Studdard followed up his Soulful debut with the straight-gospel I Need an Angel (see "Ruben Studdard Decides Christmas Just Isn't Spiritual Enough"), he's returning to his roots for number three.

"This is going to be another R&B album," he said. "We're just looking for the best songs, and everybody's really working really hard to make it a great album."

Studdard wouldn't reveal other collaborators but did let it slip that he's in the running for a role in an upcoming movie. He caught the acting bug after playing himself in last year's "Scooby Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed" and has been searching for the right role since. Ideally, it's a comedy.

"I'm all about the laughs," he said. "I'll do Jim Carrey-style for you if you want me to."

Ruben got a quick comedy fix recently when he appeared in the second episode of the new FOX sitcom "Life on a Stick."

"I loved it," he said. "But it was a lot of hurry up and wait."