Crossword puzzle designer Merl Reagle crosses over to Springfield, as an animated version of himself makes a cameo appearance on The Simpsons.  A fan of the show, Reagle works as a full-time puzzle creator for newspapers across the nation.  Along with New York Times crossword editor Will Shortz’s yellow-skinned counterpart, Reagle’s Simpson-ized character will be featured in the new episode, “Homer and Lisa Exchange Cross Words.” 

Reagle graduated from Catalina High School and the University of Arizona, and worked as a copy editor for the Arizona Daily Star for three years.  He later decided to take on puzzle-making as his profession, which has brought him much success.  During an interview with the Caliente publication, he revealed just how he managed a spot on the hit Fox television show. 

“I was in a movie in 2006 called Wordplay about the crossword puzzle business.  It was made by a husband-and-wife team in L.A. and it was a hit at the Sundance Film Festival,” he revealed.  “James L. Brooks, the main producer on The Simpsons, saw the movie and liked it and thought they should do an episode of the show with a crossword puzzle plot to it in which Lisa becomes hooked on crosswords.  At the end there was supposed to be a cameo appearance by Will Shortz.  They thought they could get a couple of extra laughs in there, if they stuck me in, too.  Will and I ended up being kind of a one-two punch.”

Asked if he was fond of watching The Simpsons, Merl Reagle didn’t think twice.  “I’ve been a fan from the beginning when when it was on ‘The Tracy Ullman Show‘ and the characters looked absolutely weird.” 

He continued, “I like it when they go to the mall or a shop or go to a movie and there is some store with a great name I wish I had thought of.  My favorite was the gun shop called Bloodbath & Beyond.” 

Reagle also explained the recording process for the episode, in which writer Tim Long asked him to say his lines around 14 times in different ways.  “If Hank Azaria, Harry Shearer and Nancy Cartwright have to go through it every week, I can do it once.” 

You can’t deny that as children, each of us thought it would be cool to be in our favorite animated series.  Reagle finally gets his chance.  “I never would have guessed that I would have been in a cartoon myself.  It is like a dream come true.”

-Maria Gonzalez, BuddyTV Staff Columnist
Source: Arizona Daily Star
(Image Courtesy of FOX)

Maria Gonzalez

Staff Writer, BuddyTV