April 21, 2009
"The Phone" Premieres Tonight!
If Justin Timberlake calls, think twice before answering.
On The Phone, the new MTV reality show that Timberlake is executive producing – premiering Tuesday at 10 p.m. – contestants accept a challenge via cellphone to complete several high-stakes missions for clues that will ultimately lead them to a $50,000 prize.
Among the tasks: climbing to the top of Seattle's Space Needle.
"We take four people and put them through a game of hell, basically," Timberlake, 28, tells PEOPLE. "We make them characters in an action film. We constantly throw a curve ball."
How crazy does it get? In the opening seconds of the debut episode, a female contestant presses 1 on her phone keypad to play – and a car blows up nearby.
Though the show was inspired by a similar program in Holland, "our version is that show on acid," says Timberlake, who participated in the early development of the six-episode series. "I helped format the show and come up with ideas to constantly up the stakes on the contestants. But I have such a great team that put together the ins and outs of the show."
Timberlake is also gearing up to host the May 9 episode of Saturday Night Live with musical guest Ciara. "That experience for me is nothing but fun," says the experienced host. "I feel like I get to hang out with a group of people I like to hang out with and we happen to do sketch comedy, too."
So what's up his sleeve this time around? "I really haven't thought about it," he says. "The good thing about SNL is that there's plenty of weird things that will happen in the world in the next couple of weeks, so you never want to plan too far ahead."