Shared universes are all the rage in modern cinema. There’s Marvel’s Avengers franchise, of course, and Warner Brothers are following their lead with a series of interconnected DC movies. Universal Studios are trying to create their own ‘monster universe’, with a series featuring Dracula, werewolves, and the Mummy; there’s also talk of adapting the various Hanna-Barbera cartoons into a shared movie universe.
But there’s also a shared universe on television, bound together by one man.
You may have recognised man in the picture above as Perd Hapley, one of the funniest of Parks and Recreation’s recurring background characters. Perd was a newscaster with a fairly unique set of inflections and turn of phrase, which lead to a lot of funny moments across the course of the show’s run.
Did you recognise him when he was on Supergirl, though?
Here we can see the same newscaster, issuing a report on the latest disaster in National City. If I recall correctly, in this particular episode it was a crazed scientist attacking his former employer, but we’ve also seen this newscaster report on issues as far reaching as alien invasion.
Perhaps you didn’t spot him on Supergirl, though.
Maybe you saw him on Scandal?
Mike Waters, as he’s known on Scandal, has appeared in various episodes of Scandal since 2012. On 16 different occasions, viewers of Scandal would have seen him reporting on all the pressing issues of the day - like, as seen in the above picture, a key politician having a health scare.
Still don’t recognise him?
Perhaps you’ve seen him on the actual news.
There isn’t, in fact, a shared universe between all these programmes, nor is there a conspiracy. (At least not one I’m aware of, though I suppose that I wouldn’t be aware of it simply by virtue of the fact that it’s a conspiracy.)
This newscaster is in fact a man named Jay Jackson, and he began his career in television as a newscaster - a real life newscaster. Since then, he’s began to take on acting jobs, but made one stipulation for his agent - he would only play newscasters.
And so that’s how we ended up seeing Jay in all these different programs. A quick perusal of his IMDb page reveals a host of credits in television shows as diverse as Scandal, The Catch and Pretty Little Liars. He’s even had a guest turn in movies such as Fast Five, Ctrl Alt Delete and Battleship.
Admittedly, in recent years Jay has been trying to broaden his CV somewhat, playing a homophobic pastor in the movie Daddy. So, perhaps this isn’t quite the same connective tissue that it once was.
But it’s still quite an entertaining pattern to have noticed. Why not see if you can spot him in the background of your favourite shows?
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