In one of the most interesting media crossovers ever, crossword puzzle creator Merl Reagle and The New York Times crossword puzzle editor Will Shortz will be making guest voice appearances on the Sunday, November 16, 2008 episode of The Simpsons. The episode is entitled “Homer and Lisa Exchange Cross Words.”
In the episode, Lisa Simpson discovers that she has an amazing talent for solving crossword puzzles. Lisa becomes an expert cruciverbalist and enters a citywide crossword puzzle tournament.
Meanwhile, Homer Simpson gets involved in an underground betting ring at the crossword puzzle tournament. Home betrays his daughter Lisa by betting against her. In hopes of making it up to Lisa, Homer goes to Shortz and Reagle to help him spell out his love for Lisa.
The most interesting twist around the episode is that there will be a hidden Simpsons-related message in The New York Times Sunday Crossword Puzzle on November 16, 2008. The message will be an integral to The Simpson’s “Homer and Lisa Exchange Cross Words” episode.
“One of the great things about working on The Simpsons is that when we do a show on a particular subject – be it politics, sports or music – we do it right,” Long notes. “In this case, we hired master constructor Merl Reagle (who guest-voices as himself) to design every single crossword puzzle visible throughout the episode. Conscientious or obsessive-compulsive? You be the judge!”
Long credits the documentary “Word Play,” which chronicles the national crossword puzzle championships, as his inspiration for the episode. “The world it depicts is just so vivid and real, and Will Shortz has such an understated charisma about him. I understand that when Will makes public appearances, women throw their No. 2 pencils at him.”