Justin Timberlake's Promotional Run-Up to 'The 20/20 Experience': A Timeline

July 22, 2011:
Timberlake stars alongside Mila Kunis in the romantic comedy "Friends With Benefits."

August 31, 2011:
Following a tweet from his official Twitter account ("NYC!!! Wanna check out some live music tonight?? Meet me and @freesol at 45th & 9th at 11pm."), Timberlake gives an impromptu live performance of his chart-topping 2002 single "What Goes Around... Comes Around," at Southern Hospitality, a New York City restaurant he co-owned during its brief existence. He performs with the group Freesol, signed to his Tennman label. "Thanks for your help," Timberlake said with a smile as the song wound down. "It's been a long time."

September 21, 2011:
Timberlake joins an ensemble cast headed up by Clint Eastwood in the sports drama "Trouble with the Curve."

September 26, 2011:
Timberlake's movie career ramps up further with the announcement that he will put on his boogie shoes and take the lead role in "Spinning Gold," a feature-film biopic of Neil Bogart, the disco-era record mogul behind the Casablanca Records label. Of course, he's producing the thing, too.

October 28, 2011:
Timberlake stars alongside Olivia Wilde in the science-fiction action film "In Time."

May/June 2012:
Timberlake secretly begins recording new material with longtime producer Timbaland. "I would say probably around the late part of May, first week in June, [Justin and I] went to dinner," manager Johnny Wright recalled to Billboard.biz. "He said, 'Guess where I've been the past couple of nights?' I said, I don't know. 'I've been in the studio with Timbaland.' I said, 'What are you guys working on?' and he said, 'I'm working on my stuff.' I was kind of shocked, because, you know, I wasn't prepared for that."

Darren LeGallo, Justin Timberlake and Timbaland attend Darren LeGallo's 'Nothing You Don't Know' Exhibition in Los Angeles, California.

July 2012:
The album that becomes The 20/20 Experience is finished. "It was a fast record," Wright says. "Justin had a short window because he had to actually fly to Puerto Rico and shoot a movie with Ben Affleck; he had like four weeks, him and Timbaland. I mean, he'd been thinking about it for years, but by the time they got the studio he had it inside of him -- a direction he wanted to go. And his and Timbaland's relationship is like a brotherhood: They're just so comfortable with each other -- not only as musical friends but as personal friends... that you can get things done in a short period of time. Had [the Affleck movie] not happened, we might have actually set up and put the album out sooner." Timberlake and Wright, together with M2M Construction, begin formulating plans for how to release the music.

August 7, 2012:
After producer Jim Beanz nearly lets the cat out of the bag by telling the press that Timberlake and Timbaland have been recording a new album -- "It's still in the early stages, but they have a lot of tracks," a rep for JT tells Billboard there are no plans for a third solo album.

September 2012:
Timberlake and Wright meet with RCA heads Peter Edge and Tom Corson to plot release strategies for the album.

October 19, 2012:
Timberlake marries longtime girlfriend Jessica Biel in a secret ceremony in southern Italy.

November 2012:
Wright and RCA begin discussions with Target and others for marketing plans around The 20/20 Experience.

January 10, 2013:
Timberlake makes a series of abrupt announcements via social media indicating he is, in fact, returning to music. After a cryptic tweet only indicating a date and time ("Thursday, January 10th, 2013 at 9:01 am PST...") arrives from Timberlake's official Twitter account, a teaser video called "I'm Ready" appears on YouTube, showing JT in a recording studio and discussing recent musical activity -- with a countdown clock designed by Timberlake's digital team. Later in the day, reports surface that Timberlake will be releasing a single collaboration with Jay-Z as a precursor to a Timbaland-produced album project.

January 13, 2013:

As rumored, Timberlake unveils "Suit & Tie," a single featuring Jay-Z that quickly dominates social-media conversation, synergistically doing so via the revamped MySpace.

Incredibly, news of the single did not leak. "The people that Justin worked with were people that are his friends and have been a part of his life forever, and they all share in the common goal of 'we don't want this leaking out,'" Wright says. "To be honest with you, though, outside of that group of people -- I'm just as dumbfounded at the fact that the [album] hasn't leaked sooner. The hard part -- and I give a lot of credit to Peter Edge and Tom Corson for this -- was to get a whole international record company engaged and sending marketing plans and talking to them about what platforms might be available, and they couldn't tell them who the artist was."