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Billboard Bits: Toby Keith, F. Lips, Tony Orlando

News on Toby Keith, F. Lips, Tony Orlando

TobyWith one album left on his DreamWorks contract following the recent release of "Honkytonk University," Toby Keith is considering starting his own label. "It's just time," the artist tells Billboard. "We're in negotiations [with DreamWorks], so anything can happen. That's definitely an option. One way or another I have to be in a position where I'm in control of my music."

"We have now officially met with every major-label head in town and have had talks and discussions even with their bosses [about] all kinds of possibilities," adds Keith's manager, T.K. Kimbrell. "Anything could happen."

What kind of label executive would Keith make if he struck out on his own? "Toby feels like artists in Nashville aren't given the freedom musically and career-wise that they need," Kimbrell says. "I don't think any artist would ever have to fight with Toby for artistic freedom. He'd be like, 'You go for it.'"

-- Ray Waddell and Phyllis Stark, Nashville

LipsA new Flaming Lips song, "Mr. Ambulance Driver," leads the soundtrack to the upcoming film "Wedding Crashers." Due July 12 via New Line Records, three days before the Vince Vaughn/Owen Wilson-starring film hits U.S. theaters, the album also features the rare Jimmy Eat World track "(Splash) Turn Twist" and previously released cuts from Death Cab For Cutie, Spoon, Rilo Kiley, Bloc Party, Guster and Robbers On High Street.

Vaughn, Wilson and the Klezmer Juice Band team up for a rendition of the Jewish wedding staple "Hava Nagilah." The soundtrack will also offer up a video for the Isley Brothers' "Shout" with Vaughn and Wilson.

-- Jonathan Cohen, N.Y.

TonyTony Orlando & Dawn are recording together for the first time in 28 years. Orlando, Telma Hopkins and Joyce Vincent have reunited to make a Christmas album with producer Michael Omartian. "Tony Orlando & Dawn-A Christmas Reunion" comes out Oct. 11 via R2 Entertainment.

The new project will be preceded by R2's Sept. 13 release of a three-disc DVD set featuring highlights from the group's variety show, which ran on CBS from 1974 to 1977, and the trio's musical catalog, available for the first time on CD.

-- Melinda Newman, L.A.