Billboard Bits: Timberlake, Combs/Simmons, matchbox

News on Justin Timberlake, Sean "P. Diddy" Combs/Russell Simmons, and matchbox twenty.

Timberlake'N Sync's Justin Timberlake has signed on as a special correspondent for Turner Sports. The artist will report from the PGA championship, NBA playoffs, and NASCAR races for the TNT network, and will cover college football and Major League Baseball contests for TBS. Timberlake has appeared in celebrity exhibition games during the NBA's All-Star Weekend for the past two seasons.

"We are excited at what this unique marriage between the world of sports and entertainment can bring to our high-profile sports properties," Turner Sports executive producer Mike Pearl said in a statement. "Justin's interest and enthusiasm not only in the NBA, but in all sports should help provide our broadcasts with a new, fresh approach."

As previously reported, Timberlake's Justified and Stripped tour with Christina Aguilera kicks off June 4 in Phoenix.

-- Jonathan Cohen, N.Y.

DiddySean "P. Diddy" Combs and Roc-A-Fella Records CEO Damon Dash will join New York Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, hip-hop impresario Russell Simmons, and others for a New York protest tomorrow (May 8) to encourage Gov. George Pataki to repeal the state's Rockefeller drug laws. They will be joined by representatives of the NAACP, ACLU, the Congressional Black Caucus, the National Urban League, Mothers for the New York Disappeared, and the Simmons-founded Hip-Hop Summit Action Network at the event, which will take place outside Pataki's Manhattan office.

Calling the three-decade old laws, which mandate lengthy imprisonment for those convicted of drug possession, "wack," Simmons says the group is asking Pataki to meet a specific deadline to repeal the laws under the "Countdown to Fairness" banner.

"I don't think it's fair that a young person coming up could make a simple mistake and it can affect their entire lives, preventing them from evolving and moving forward," Dash said in a statement. "It's also unfair that minorities are the main people who suffer in these situations. We need to repeal these laws so we can become better people and grow instead of locking these people up and throwing away the key."

-- Barry A. Jeckell, N.Y.

TwentyMonday's (May 12) matchbox twenty concert at Boston's FleetCenter has been moved up to Sunday night to accommodate game four of the National Basketball Association's (NBA) Eastern Conference Semifinal series. On Monday, the venue will host the game between the New Jersey Nets and the Boston Celtics.

"We were lucky to have an open date on Sunday, and since it's Mother's Day, we're encouraging all our Boston fans to treat Mom to a night out with matchbox twenty," guitarist Adam Gaynor said in a statement. "Needless to say, we were more than happy to shift the date to accommodate the playoff battle between these two great teams. Now what do we have to do to score some tickets?"

Despite a hand injury suffered by drummer Paul Doucette during rehearsals, matchbox twenty launched its North American tour about two weeks ago. Doucette has what doctors call a "boxer's break," which is expected to heal even though he's playing drums nightly. The tour visits Toronto tonight (May 7) and is scheduled to wrap July 6 in Virginia Beach, Va. A European tour is scheduled to kick off Sept. 4 in Glasgow.

-- Barry A. Jeckell, N.Y.