Daniel Okrent

Daniel Okrent (born April 2, 1948) is an American writer and editor.

He is best known for having served as the first public editor of The New York Times newspaper, for inventing Rotisserie League Baseball,[1] and for writing several books, such as Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition, which served as a major source for the 2011 Ken Burns/Lynn Novick miniseries Prohibition.

In November 2011, Last Call won the Albert J. Beveridge prize, awarded by the American Historical Association to the year's best book of American history.

Early life and education

Born to a Jewish family[2] in Detroit, Michigan, Okrent graduated from Cass Technical High School in Detroit[3] in 1965 and from the University of Michigan, where he worked on the university's student newspaper The Michigan Daily.


Most of his career has been spent as an editor, at such places as Alfred A. Knopf; Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich; Esquire Magazine; New England Monthly; Life Magazine; and Time, Inc.

His book Great Fortune: The Epic of Rockefeller Center (Viking, 2003) was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for History.

In October 2003, Okrent was named public editor for The New York Times following the Jayson Blair scandal. He held this position until May 2005.

Okrent and Peter Gethers, having acquired the theatrical rights to the site and name of the web series Old Jews Telling Jokes, co-wrote and co-produced a revue of that name.[4] It opened at the Westside Theatre in Manhattan on May 20, 2012.

On May 3, 2014, the University of Michigan awarded Okrent an honorary degree, Doctor of Humane Letters.

Since 2017, Okrent has been listed on the Advisory Board of the Secular Coalition for America.[5]

Okrent's law

He formulated what has become known as "Okrent's law" in an interview comment he made about his new job. It states: "The pursuit of balance can create imbalance because sometimes something is true", referring to the phenomenon of the press providing legitimacy to fringe or minority viewpoints in an effort to appear even-handed.[6][7][8][9]


Okrent invented Rotisserie League Baseball, the best-known form of fantasy baseball, in 1979. The name comes from the fact that he proposed the idea to his friends while dining at La Rôtisserie Française restaurant in New York City. Okrent's team in the Rotisserie League was called the "Okrent Fenokees", a pun on the Okefenokee Swamp. He was one of the first two people inducted into the Fantasy Sports Hall of Fame.[10] Okrent was still playing Rotisserie as of 2009 under the team name Dan Druffs. Despite having been credited with inventing fantasy baseball he has never been able to win a Rotisserie League. His exploits of inventing Rotisserie League Baseball were chronicled in Silly Little Game, part of the ESPN 30 for 30 documentary series, in 2010.[11]

Okrent is also credited with inventing the baseball stat, WHIP.[12] At the time he referred to it as IPRAT, signifying "Innings Pitched Ratio".

In May 1981, Okrent wrote and Sports Illustrated published "He Does It by the Numbers".[13] This profile of the then-unknown Bill James launched James's career as baseball's foremost analyst.[14]

In 1994, Okrent was filmed for his in-depth knowledge of baseball history for the Ken Burns documentary Baseball.[15] During the nine-part series, a red-sweater-wearing Okrent delivered a detailed analysis of the cultural aspects of the national pastime, including a comparison of the dramatic Game 6 of the 1975 World Series between the Boston Red Sox and Cincinnati Reds to the conflict and character development in Russian novels.

The Death of Print

In the late 1990s, as editor of new media at Time Inc., Okrent wrote about the future of magazine publishing.[16] He believed that the advancement of digital technologies would make it easier for people to read newspapers, magazines and books online.[17] In late 1999, Okrent made a prediction about the future of print media in the Hearst New Media Lecture at the Graduate School of Journalism of Columbia University.[16] He told his audience:

I believe they, and all forms of print, are dead. Finished. Over. Perhaps not in my professional lifetime, but certainly in that of the youngest people in this room. Remove the question mark from the title of this talk. The Death of Print, full stop.[18]

Personal life

Okrent has participated in LearnedLeague under the name "OkrentD".[19][20]


  • The Ultimate Baseball Book (co-editor, with Harris Lewine) (1979)
  • Nine Innings: The Anatomy of Baseball as Seen Through the Playing of a Single Game (1985)
  • Baseball Anecdotes (co-author, with Steve Wulf) (1987)
  • The Way We Were: New England Then, New England Now (1988)
  • Great Fortune: The Epic of Rockefeller Center (2003)
  • Public Editor #1 (2006)
  • Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition (2010)


See also


  1. ^ Derry, Jim (March 28, 2011). "Ready for your fantasy baseball draft? Here are some simple rules to live by". The Times-Picayune. Retrieved April 24, 2011.
  2. ^ Okrent, Daniel (April 29, 2012). "Kvelling in Their Seats - A first-time producer on what it took to stage Old Jews Telling Jokes". New York Magazine.
  3. ^ "Getting the 'Lowdown'". Entertainment Weekly. January 7, 2000.
  4. ^ Okrent, Daniel. "Kvelling in Their Seats". New York Magazine. New York Magazine. Retrieved 25 December 2016.
  5. ^ "Board". secular.org. Secular Coalition for America. Archived from the original on 2017-01-04. Retrieved 2018-10-29.
  6. ^ Pearlman, Jeff (October 11, 2012). "Daniel Okrent". Jeff Pearlman. Jeff Pearlman. Archived from the original on January 6, 2013. Retrieved August 8, 2014.
  7. ^ "The New Yorker". Issues 1–10. 80. F-R Publishing Corporation. May 24, 2004: 244.
  8. ^ Hoffman, Sam; Spiegelman, Eric (2010). Old Jews Telling Jokes: 5,000 Years of Funny Bits and Not-So-Kosher Laughs (Trade Paperback ed.). Random House Publishing Group. p. 198. ISBN 9780345522450.
  9. ^ Schwarz, Daniel R. (2012). "6 Counter-Reformation or the Way We Are (I)". Endtimes? Crises and Turmoil at the New York Times 1999-2009 (Albany: Excelsior Editions ed.). State University of New York Press. p. 205. OCLC 702357541. Retrieved August 8, 2014.
  10. ^ "Fantasy Sports Hall of Fame". fsta.org.
  11. ^ "30 for 30". ESPN. Retrieved April 27, 2015.
  12. ^ Di Fino, Nando (August 3, 2009). "Dan Okrent Invented WHIP Statistic, Fantasy Baseball". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2017-12-24.
  13. ^ Okrent, Daniel (25 May 1981). "He Does It By The Numbers". sportsillustrated.cnn.com. Sports Illustrated. Archived from the original on 2009-08-13. Retrieved 2017-12-24.
  14. ^ Chafets, Ze'ev (2009). Cooperstown Confidential: Heroes, Rogues, and the Inside Story of the Baseball Hall of Fame. New York: Bloomsbury USA. p. 44. ISBN 9781596915459. OCLC 305422137.
  15. ^ "Dan Okrent: The Origins of Rotisserie Baseball – The Tenth Inning". pbs.org. Retrieved 2017-12-24.
  16. ^ a b Lieb, Thom (March 2001). "Q. & A.: Breaking News". The Journal of Electronic Publishing. 6 (3). doi:10.3998/3336451.0006.306. Retrieved 2016-04-25.
  17. ^ Nayar, Pramod K. (2004). Virtual worlds: culture and politics in the age of cybertechnology. New Delhi: Sage Publications. p. 117. ISBN 9780761932284.
  18. ^ Okrent, Dan (February 2000). "The Death of Print?". digitaljournalist.org. Retrieved 2016-04-25.
  19. ^ "LL Profile: OkrentD". LearnedLeague. Retrieved 2014-10-16.
  20. ^ Kushner, Adam B. (August 20, 2014). "The coolest, weirdest Internet community you'll never be able to join". washingtonpost.com. The Washington Post. Retrieved 2017-12-24.

External links

Media offices
New title Public Editor for The New York Times
Succeeded by
Byron Calame
Byron Calame

Byron "Barney" Calame (born April 14, 1939 in Appleton City, Missouri) is an American journalist. He worked at The Wall Street Journal for 39 years, retiring as deputy managing editor in 2004. In 2005, he became the second public editor of The New York Times for a fixed two-year term.

Clark Hoyt

Clark Hoyt is an American journalist who was the public editor of The New York Times, serving as the "readers' representative." He was the newspaper's third public editor, or ombudsman, after Daniel Okrent and Byron Calame. His initial two-year term began on May 14, 2007, and was later extended for another year, expiring in June 2010.

Colin Harrison (writer)

Colin Harrison (born 1960 in New York City) is an American novelist and editor.

Harrison is the author of eight novels: Break and Enter (1990), Bodies Electric (1993), Manhattan Nocturne (1996), Afterburn (2000), The Havana Room (2004), The Finder (2008), Risk (2009), which was first published as a fifteen-part serial in The New York Times magazine in 2008, and You Belong to Me, published in June, 2017. His books have been published in a dozen countries and four have been selected as Notable Books by The New York Times Book Review. The Finder was a finalist for the 2009 Los Angeles Times Book Prize and the 2009 Dashiell Hammett Award. All are atmospheric novels of violence, sex, and suspense that explore the underside of city life, most particularly in New York. Although his novels invariably involve the money and power that is concentrated in Manhattan, his stories usually snake through the boroughs outside Manhattan as well, in particular through Brooklyn, which has served as a setting for scenes in Bodies Electric (Park Slope and Sunset Park), Manhattan Nocturne (East New York), The Finder (Marine Park, Bensonhurst) and Risk (Canarsie). A movie version of "Manhattan Nocturne," directed and written by Brian DeCubellis and titled "Manhattan Night," was released by Lionsgate in May, 2016. The movie stars Adrien Brody, Yvonne Strahovski, Campbell Scott, Jennifer Beals, and others.

His short nonfiction has appeared in The New York Times, New York Magazine, The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, Vogue, Salon, Worth, and other publications and anthologies, including Brooklyn Was Mine, edited by Chris Knutsen and Valerie Steiker.

He has lived since 1987 in the Park Slope neighborhood of Brooklyn, with his wife, the writer Kathryn Harrison, with whom he has three children. He was an editor at Harper's Magazine from 1989 until 2001 and in that time worked with such writers as David Foster Wallace, Jonathan Franzen, Jane Smiley, Russell Banks, Michael Paternite, Lucy Grealy, Thom Jones, Scott Anderson, Sebastian Junger, Ken Kalfus, Verlyn Klinkenborg, Barbara Ehrenreich, Charles Bowden, Joy Williams, David Quammen, William H. Gass, Joe Conason, David Guterson, Bob Shacochis, Joyce Carol Oates, Lewis Lapham, and many others. In 2001 he was appointed senior editor at Scribner, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, where he edits both fiction and non-fiction. In 2013, he became Scribner's editor-in-chief. Among the many writers he has worked there with are Anthony Swofford, Jeff Hobbs, Jason Matthews, Nic Pizzolatto, Helen Thorpe, Marc Fisher and Michael Kranish of The Washington Post, Ted Fishman, Kem Nunn, John Dalton, Richard Snow, Craig Nelson, Greg Iles, Bruce Weber, Craig Unger, Steven Johnson, Alexandra Horowitz, Rick Perlstein, Carol Sklenicka, Kevin Fedarko, Linda Fairstein, Robert Ferrigno, Daniel Okrent, Doug Stanton, S.G. Gwynne, and Chuck Hogan. From 1993 to 2003 he taught intermittently at Columbia University's undergraduate writing program and served as a thesis advisor for the MFA program.

Harrison attended the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop (MFA, 1986), and studied for one year in the university's American Studies doctoral program before moving to New York. He is also a graduate of Haverford College (BA, 1982), and Westtown School (1978), a coeducational Quaker boarding school, where his father, Earl Harrison Jr., was headmaster.

Fantasy baseball

Fantasy baseball is a game in which people manage rosters of league baseball players, either online or in a physical location, using fictional fantasy baseball team names. The participants compete against one another using those players' real life statistics to score points.

Harry Stein (author)

Harry J. Stein (born November 25, 1948) is an American author and columnist. As of 2009, he is a contributing editor to the political magazine City Journal.Stein is a graduate of Pomona College and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.

Stein grew up in New Rochelle, NY and graduated from New Rochelle High School in 1966.

He is married with two children, Sadie and Charlie.

He currently splits his time between residences in New York and Arizona

Stein wrote for Ramparts and New Times magazines in the 1970s, and originated Esquire's "Ethics" column in the 1980s. During the 1990s he wrote a column on television ethics for TV Guide. As part of the New York media scene of the early 1980s he was a member of the inaugural Rotisserie League formed by Daniel Okrent.

He is the author of novels and memoirs, including satirical political commentary related to his transition from liberal to conservative viewpoints. His first book, Tiny Tim, a biography of the entertainer, was published in 1976.

Stein's father, the late Joseph Stein, was a famous Broadway librettist/playwright

Last Call

Last Call may refer to:

Last call (bar term), an announcement made in a bar before serving drinks is stopped

Lorn Brown

Lorn Brown (September 18, 1938 – June 24, 2010) was a sports broadcaster who worked for baseball's AAA Iowa Oaks 1973–1974 (St. Louis Cardinals September 1974 fill-in), Chicago White Sox (1976–1979, 1983–1988), Milwaukee Brewers (1980–1981), and New York Mets (1982), among other jobs. He once said that he changed the spelling of his first name from Lorne to Lorn because he didn't want to be confused with the actor Lorne Greene.Brown's career included working alongside such baseball broadcasters as Harry Caray, Bob Uecker, and Bob Murphy, each a recipient of the prestigious Ford C. Frick Award, the highest honor in the field. While a member of the Mets' TV broadcast team (WOR Channel 9), many Mets fans referred to him as "The Professor" because of his appearance; beside his greying beard and glasses, he would often choose to wear a vest or a Tweed Jacket on air. He was replaced in the Mets booth by Tim McCarver, who would go on to become the highest-profile baseball broadcaster of his generation and winner of the Ford Frick award.

According to Daniel Okrent, his work alongside Uecker could be strained:

Long baseball seasons demanded humor, and Uecker provided it. With the players, he was always charming; at other times, though, he could be brutally cold, as he was to his radio-booth partner from the year before, Lorn Brown. When Brown was doing the play-by-play, Uecker would turn off his mike, making himself inaccessible to a desperate Brown, a decent, earnest, and rather unimaginative man who couldn't easily make it through an inning without the help of a partner. Brown was stolid, plodding, hung up on statistics. He was also painfully ill at ease among ball players, and Uecker disdained him for it.

Brown's basketball work included Bradley U., Drake U, Big 10, ACC, Missouri Valley, Notre Dame and Metro Conf. TV networks as well as TV announcer for the Chicago Bulls 1974-1978. Brown is a member of the Illinois Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame.Brown also turned his baritone voice toward work in the commercial voice-over field, narrating commercials for Budweiser beer, Ace Hardware, and the National Football League, among others. He was represented by Grossman & Jack Talent, Inc.

Brown died from apparent heart failure on June 24, 2010 at the age of 71.

Man at the Crossroads

Man at the Crossroads (1933) was a fresco by Diego Rivera in New York City's Rockefeller Center. It was originally slated to be installed in the lobby of 30 Rockefeller Plaza, the main building of the center. Man at the Crossroads showed the aspects of contemporary social and scientific culture. As originally installed, it was a three-paneled artwork. A central panel depicted a worker controlling machinery. The central panel was flanked by two other panels, The Frontier of Ethical Evolution and The Frontier of Material Development, which respectively represented socialism and capitalism.

The Rockefeller family approved of the mural's idea: showing the contrast of capitalism versus communism. However, after the New York World-Telegram complained about the piece, calling it "anti-capitalist propaganda", an image of Vladimir Lenin and a Soviet Russian May Day parade were secretly added in protest. When these were discovered, Nelson Rockefeller – at the time a director of the Rockefeller Center – wanted Rivera to remove the portrait of Lenin, but Rivera was unwilling to do so. In May 1933, Rockefeller ordered the mural to be plastered-over and thereby destroyed before it was finished, resulting in protests and boycotts from other artists. Man at the Crossroads was peeled off in 1934 and replaced by a mural from Josep Maria Sert three years later. Only black-and-white photographs exist of the original incomplete mural, taken when Rivera suspected it might be destroyed. Using the photographs, Rivera repainted the composition in Mexico under the variant title Man, Controller of the Universe.

The controversy over the mural was significant because Rivera's communist ideals contrasted with the theme of Rockefeller Center, even though the Rockefeller family themselves admired Rivera's work. The creation and destruction of the mural is dramatized in the films Cradle Will Rock (1999) and Frida (2002). The reactions to the mural's controversy have been dramatized in Archibald MacLeish's 1933 collection Frescoes for Mr. Rockefeller's City as well as in E. B. White's 1933 poem "I paint what I see: A ballad of artistic integrity".


Okrent is a surname, and may refer to:

Arika Okrent, American linguist

Daniel Okrent (born 1948), American writer and editor

Detlef Okrent (1909–1983), German field hockey player

Pathfinder (website)

Pathfinder was a landing page with links to various Time Inc. websites. In its initial form, Pathfinder was one of the first Internet portals, created as Time Warner's entry onto the Internet. The objective of Pathfinder was to be an all-encompassing site that brought the best content from all of Time Warner under one banner.

Prohibition (miniseries)

Prohibition is a 2011 American television documentary miniseries directed by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick with narration by Peter Coyote. The series originally aired on PBS between October 2, 2011 and October 4, 2011. It draws heavily from the 2010 book Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition by Daniel Okrent.

Public editor

The job of the public editor is to supervise the implementation of proper journalism ethics at a newspaper, and to identify and examine critical errors or omissions, and to act as a liaison to the public. They do this primarily through a regular feature on a newspaper's editorial page. Because public editors are generally employees of the very newspaper they're criticizing, it may appear as though there is a possibility for bias. However, a newspaper with a high standard of ethics would not fire a public editor for a criticism of the paper; the act would contradict the purpose of the position and would itself be a very likely cause for public concern.

Many major newspapers in the U.S. use the public editor column as the voice for their ombudsman, though this is not always so. Public editor columns cover a broader scope of issues and do not have an accreditation process, while in order to qualify as an ombudsman of any standing one must be a member of the Organisation of News Ombudsmen.

The first newspaper to appoint an ombudsman was Tokyo's Asahi Shimbun in 1922; the first American newspapers to appoint a public editor were the Louisville Courier-Journal and Louisville Times in 1967.At The New York Times, the position was created in response to the Jayson Blair scandal. The Times' first public editor was Daniel Okrent, who held the position from December 2003 through May 2005. Okrent's successor was Byron Calame, who was followed by Clark Hoyt, who held the position for three years. In August 2010, Arthur S. Brisbane assumed the post and held it until 2012, when Margaret M. Sullivan took the position. in April, 2016, Sullivan left the position to become a media columnist at the Washington Post; her last column for the Times was dated April 16. She was replaced by Elizabeth Spayd in July 2016.

On May 31, 2017, the Times announced that it was eliminating the public editor position.


Seagram Company Ltd. (formerly traded as Seagram's) was a Canadian multinational conglomerate formerly headquartered in Montreal, Quebec. Originally a distiller of Canadian whisky based in Waterloo, Ontario, it was once (in the 1990s) the largest owner of alcoholic beverage lines in the world.

Toward the end of its independent existence, it also controlled various entertainment and other business ventures, with its purchase of MCA Inc., whose assets included Universal Studios and its theme parks, financed through the sale of Seagram's 25% holding of chemical company DuPont, a position it acquired in 1981. Following this, the company imploded, with its beverage assets wholesaled off to various industry titans, notably The Coca-Cola Company, Diageo, and Pernod Ricard. Universal's television holdings were sold off to media entrepreneur Barry Diller, and the balance of the Universal entertainment empire and what was Seagram was sold to French conglomerate Vivendi in 2000.

Seagram's House, the former Seagram's headquarters in Montreal, was donated to McGill University by Vivendi Universal in 2002, then renamed Martlet House. The Seagram Building, once the company's American headquarters in New York City, was commissioned by Phyllis Lambert, daughter of Seagram CEO Samuel Bronfman, and designed by architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe with Philip Johnson. Regarded as one of the most notable examples of the functionalist aesthetic and a prominent instance of corporate modern architecture, it set the trend for the city's skyline for decades to follow, and has been featured in several Hollywood films. On completion, the innovative and luxuriously appointed 38-story tower's construction costs made it the world's most expensive skyscraper. The Bronfman family sold the Seagram building to the Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association for $70.5 million in 1979.

The Great American Novel (Roth)

The Great American Novel is a novel by Philip Roth, published in 1973.

Wahconah Park

Wahconah Park is a city-owned baseball park located in Pittsfield, Massachusetts and nestled in a working-class neighborhood. One of the last remaining ballparks in the United States with a wooden grandstand, it was constructed in 1919 and seats 4,500. Through the park's history, 201 different Pittsfield players went on to the Major Leagues, and 100 different Pittsfield players already had some Major League experience. The park was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2005.In the July 23, 1990 issue of Sports Illustrated, author Daniel Okrent raved about the park in his column entitled Just A Little Bit of Heaven – Pittsfield's Wahconah Park is Baseball as it Oughta Be.In 2012, the stadium became the home field of the Pittsfield Suns, an expansion franchise of the Futures Collegiate Baseball League.

Walks plus hits per inning pitched

In baseball statistics, walks plus hits per inning pitched (WHIP) is a sabermetric measurement of the number of baserunners a pitcher has allowed per inning pitched. WHIP is calculated by adding the number of walks and hits allowed and dividing this sum by the number of innings pitched.WHIP reflects a pitcher's propensity for allowing batters to reach base, therefore a lower WHIP indicates better performance.

While earned run average (ERA) measures the runs a pitcher gives up, WHIP more directly measures a pitcher's effectiveness against batters. WHIP accounts for pitcher performance regardless of errors and unearned runs. On-base plus slugging, or OPS, a comparable measurement of the ability of a hitter, is another example of comparison.

William A. Gamson

William Anthony Gamson (born January 27, 1934) is a professor of Sociology at Boston College, where he is also the co-director of the Media Research and Action Project (MRAP). He is the author of numerous books and articles on political discourse, the mass-media and social movements from as early as the 1960s. His influential works include Power and Discontent (1968), The Strategy of Social Protest (1975), What's News (1984), and Talking Politics (2002), as well as numerous editions of the simulation game SimSoc.Gamson received his Ph.D. in 1959 from the University of Michigan, where he taught from 1962 until 1982. In 1962, he won the AAAS Prize for Behavioral Science Research. He is also a 1978 recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship; that same year, he was a fellow at the Stanford Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences. He became the 85th president of the American Sociological Association (ASA) in 1994. His awards include the ASA’s Distinguished Contributions to Teaching Award in 1987, the Distinguished Career award from the ASA Section on Peace and War in 1997, the McCarthy Lifetime Achievement Award from the Center for the Study of Social Movements In 2011, and the ASA’s W.E.B. Du Bois Career of Distinguished Scholarship Award by the American Sociological Association in 2012.Gamson was a leader and organizer of the 1965 anti-Vietnam War teach-in at the University of Michigan and continued to participate in anti-war sentiment and protest throughout the 60s and early 70s. He led a fast by university professors against University involvement in military research. His wife, Zelda Gamson, was also an active participant in the peace movement and was involved in the 1971 March on Washington.Gamson was also instrumental in the creation of fantasy baseball and fantasy sports. He created the first fantasy baseball league in Boston in 1960, the "Baseball Seminar," where colleagues would form rosters that earned points on the players' final standings in batting average, RBI, ERA and wins. Gamson later brought the idea with him to the University of Michigan where some professors played the game. These included historian Robert Sklar, whose students included Daniel Okrent; Okrent later wrote a book that was the key catalyst for the modern fantasy sports industry.Gamson and his wife Zelda, who live in Brookline, Massachusetts, have two children, Jennifer and Joshua, and five grandchildren.

Wordplay (film)

Wordplay is a 2006 documentary film directed by Patrick Creadon. It features Will Shortz, the editor of the New York Times crossword puzzle, crossword constructor Merl Reagle, and many other noted crossword solvers and constructors. The second half of the movie is set at the 2005 American Crossword Puzzle Tournament (ACPT), where the top solvers compete for a prize of $4000. Wordplay was the best reviewed documentary film of 2006, according to Rottentomatoes.com

The movie focuses on the following crossword solvers:

Ellen Ripstein: editor living in New York City and 2001 ACPT champion. She is also known for her baton twirling.

Trip Payne: professional puzzlemaker living in South Florida and three-time ACPT Champion. He held the record as the youngest champion after winning the tournament in 1993 at the age of 24.

Tyler Hinman: student at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York. At the 2005 ACPT, he challenged Trip Payne for the title of youngest champion ever.

Jon Delfin: pianist living in New York City and seven-time ACPT champion.

Al Sanders: project manager at Hewlett-Packard in Fort Collins, Colorado. He is a frequent finalist at the ACPT.The movie contains appearances by many celebrity fans of the Times puzzle, including Bill Clinton, Bob Dole, Jon Stewart, Ken Burns, Mike Mussina, Daniel Okrent, and the Indigo Girls.

A 2008 episode of The Simpsons, "Homer and Lisa Exchange Cross Words", is based on the film. James L. Brooks got the inspiration for the episode after watching Wordplay. "We felt both Will and Merl were very compelling, off-the-beaten-track personalities [in Wordplay], who would fit into our universe very well," Brooks said. The episode was written by Tim Long, and directed by Nancy Kruse, and guest starred crossword puzzle creators Merl Reagle and Will Shortz as themselves.

Wordplay features a theme song, "Every Word," written and performed by Gary Louris of The Jayhawks. The Wordplay DVD features a music video of "Every Word."

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