Billboard Bits: Blige, Lunch Box Auction, 'Nashville Star'

Stories on Mary J. Blige, a celebrity artwork lunch box auction and 'Nashville Star' auditions.

Mary J. Blige has recorded a cover of the James Taylor song "Your Smiling Face" for the Crest Healthy Smiles oral health awareness campaign. The program finds the company donating toothbrushes and toothpaste to needy children for each Crest product purchased during November and December. Consumers can then download the song for free at by entering the UPC code from their purchase.

"I believe it captures the joy and warmth that another person's smile can bring," Blige says of the song. While on the road promoting her new album, "Reminisce" (due Nov. 22 via Geffen/Interscope), the artist will visit with members of Boys & Girls Clubs, a co-sponsor of the Healthy Smiles program.

-- Barry A. Jeckell, N.Y.

Diddy, R.E.M.'s Michael Stipe, U2's Bono and the Edge, David Bowie, Missy Elliot and Kenny Chesney are among the celebrities who have created one-of-a-kind personalized lunchboxes for an online auction that will benefit hunger relief organizations. Beginning Oct. 14 and running through December, the AuctionCause/eBay sale at will raise funds for the Food Bank for New York City and the Lunchbox Fund.

Other musicians who have turned lunchboxes into art for the cause are Seal Paul, Rob Thomas, John Mayer, Red Hot Chili Peppers' Flea, Q-Tip, Chuck D, Pharrell, Cindy Lauper, Simple Plan, Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeah's and Conner Oberst. President Bill Clinton and celebrities such as Naomi Campbell, Emeril Lagasse, Clint Eastwood and Spike Lee have also contributed.

-- Barry A. Jeckell, N.Y.

Auditions for the fourth season of the USA Network series "Nashville Star" will get underway Oct. 21 in Los Angeles, with plans for tryouts in a total of 17 cities across the United States. Participation is open men and women 18 and older, with details including song lists and applications available on the USA Network
Web site.

After L.A., audition will be held in Chicago, Morgantown, W.Va., Phoenix and Oklahoma City (Oct. 29); Dallas, Lincoln, Neb., Raleigh, N.C., and Tampa, Fla. (Nov. 5); Portland, Ore., Washington, D.C., Pittsburgh and Atlanta (Nov. 12); Nashville (Nov. 18); Indianapolis (Nov. 21); Houston (Nov. 30); and Las Vegas (Dec. 8).

-- Barry A. Jeckell, N.Y.