The lowdown on the singer's new reality show ''The Phone'' and what he has to say about getting back in the studio

By Tim Stack
Updated March 27, 2009 at 04:00 AM EDT

At the 2007 MTV Video Music Awards, Male Artist of the Year Justin Timberlake publicly scolded the channel. ”I was the guy who was like, ‘You need to stop playing reality shows!’ and all of a sudden I have one on MTV,” says the star-turned-producer, whose new competition series The Phone premieres on April 21. A fast-paced mixture of The Amazing Race and the 1997 Michael Douglas thriller The Game, The Phone plunges contestants into a series of challenges, all to win up to $50,000. ”Obviously, I take responsibility for what I said,” says Timberlake, who’s also developing a scripted series with NBC. ”I think shortly after that I realized, ‘Wait, maybe I need to lighten up a little bit.’ [The Phone] sorta came along at that time.”

Timberlake, whose last LP FutureSex/LoveSounds dropped in 2006, says that he’s ”not working on an album right now.” But he still swings by the studio to produce other artists, like T.I. and Ciara, with whom he has the new hit ”Love Sex Magic.” ”Committing to my own project, that’s like ‘Okay, let me block out two years of my life and do it,”’ he says. ”I was heavily fulfilled with the last one, and I always have this thing that if I can’t sleep because I need to do it, then I’m gonna do it. But if I’m not losing sleep over it, then…” Somebody wake the fella up!