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Archive for Friday, August 21, 2009

Local woman takes exception to Disney characterizing ‘G-Force’ as first guinea pig movie

Alyssa Buecker, a Kansas University student made famous in 1999 when, as a Lawrence home school student, she was commissioned by HBO to make a movie about guinea pigs. She's pictured with Otto, a pet guinea pig.

Alyssa Buecker, a Kansas University student made famous in 1999 when, as a Lawrence home school student, she was commissioned by HBO to make a movie about guinea pigs. She's pictured with Otto, a pet guinea pig.

August 21, 2009


Alyssa Buecker, shown Jan. 7, 1999, in her Lawrence home, films her guinea pigs. Here, Little Angel, left, and Dolly are in a backyard setting.

Alyssa Buecker, shown Jan. 7, 1999, in her Lawrence home, films her guinea pigs. Here, Little Angel, left, and Dolly are in a backyard setting.

Lawrence resident takes umbrage with Disney claim

A Lawrence woman has found herself in the middle of a mix-up concerning a Disney blockbuster. Enlarge video

'Carrot Wars'

An excerpt from former home-schooler Alyssa Buecker's "Star Wars" spoof, "Carrot Wars," which was commissioned by HBO Family Channel. Enlarge video

Actor Bill Nighy — with that English accent made for Shakespeare — sounds eloquent promoting his new film, the Disney blockbuster “G-Force,” which features guinea pigs who save the world.

“There are very few really good scripts and they come in all shapes and sizes,” Nighy says innocently enough to the Associated Press. “And this is in the form of the very first guinea pig movie the world has ever known, which makes me a pioneer.”

Oh, great guinea pigs, did he just say that?

You’re darn right Alyssa Buecker takes exception to that sort of talk.

I made the first guinea pig movie,” Buecker says.

Yeah, you remember Buecker. As a 14-year old Lawrence home school student she received gobs of national attention for making Carrot Wars — a 17-minute film that used nothing but guinea pig “actors” to spoof the Star Wars series. The film was commissioned by HBO, was shown multiple times on the cable giant, and hit the big screen — in a somewhat limited release — a full nine years before “G-Force” was released last month.

When confronted with that fact, a Disney spokeswoman, who declined to give her name for publication, immediately did her best to distance Disney from this ticking time bomb. She quickly pointed out that it was not Disney that made such a statement. That was all Nighy.

Yes, Mr. Nighy, that is a Disney bus you are under.

“It appears that Mr. Nighy wasn’t aware of this project,” the spokeswoman said.

Really? This is a man who is not just an actor, but a thespian, a student of the craft. Are we supposed to believe he hadn’t heard of Carrot Wars?

“Well, if he didn’t, he should have,” said Buecker, who is now 25. “If he is that in to guinea pigs, I would think that he would research other guinea pig movies and other guinea pig things, and maybe have real guinea pigs in his movie.”

Excuse me. What’s that?

“They’re fake guinea pigs,” Buecker said. “They’re computer-made guinea pigs.”

Oh, my.

“Maybe they could say they are the first fake guinea pig movie,” Buecker said.

Buecker’s press agent also is pretty steamed.

“I felt a little bit outraged actually,” said Buecker’s press agent Nancy Pistorius. “And I felt a little bit sad. In fact the day I read it, I put it as my Facebook status. I said I’m a little sad because he was not the first. And then I put a link to Alyssa’s page as any good press agent would.”

By the way, Buecker’s press agent also is her mother.

Anyway, Buecker believes she will be able to move past this disappointment. She’s now a Kansas University student studying Japanese, and works part-time at the Lawrence Humane Society.

After owning as many as 23 guinea pigs when she was a teenager, Buecker learned something about the creatures: she’s allergic to them.

Yes, she said, perhaps that has cost her an Oscar or two.

So that brings up the question of whether this whole “G-Force” debacle has reopened a painful wound or brought back good memories? For the most part it has been fun to remember all the attention she once received, she said.

In addition to having her work broadcast on HBO, she also was featured in a People magazine article, and received recognition from Nickelodeon, Animal Planet and PBS. A little place called Walt Disney World also honored her in 2000 as a Disney Millennium Dreamer.


Carrot Wars has not quite grossed the $127 million that “G-Force” has taken in thus far, but Buecker does still sell a few of the 17-minute DVDs online.

For the most part the recognition is reward enough — though she wouldn’t turn down a trip to Disney World — she said.

And all this has got her thinking.

“It has made me think about maybe having a guinea pig casting call,” Buecker said.

That’s right Disney, competition.


LadyJ 6 years, 3 months ago

I remember seeing Alyssa on Nickelodeon and enjoyed her movies. I thought she was on David Letterman too, but I could be wrong. Great achievements for someone at such a young age. Great job Alyssa.

Cynthia Schott 6 years, 3 months ago


You inspired us to have guinea pigs as pets. They are wonderful! My husband and I currently have four, including one hairless female. We've had a number of the hairless variety. They each have their own wonderful little personalities.


dragonwagon2 6 years, 3 months ago

This is one of the most enjoyable and well written articles I've seen in LJW for a long time. Great work, Chad!

Maxwell Butterfield 6 years, 3 months ago

Am I the only one who read this article as sarcastic and insulting to all parties involved? Because it was pretty blatant to me...

denak 6 years, 3 months ago

I enjoyed this article. I thought it set the record straight but was also whimsicle.

My only that really a real guinea pig in the picture with her. Otto.....that thing looks HUGE How big do guinea pigs get? I really do want to know because, I have often thought of getting a guinea pig when, and if, our rabbit Chris ever decides to go to rabbit heaven.


Kontum1972 6 years, 3 months ago

you want a pig go to the animal shelter here in lawrence, if there are none wait about six months after the movie goes into the cut out bin at the local vid store...and u can take home all u need.

LyricLemon 6 years, 3 months ago

Fabulous story! I remember when the TODAY show came to Lawrence to interview her. Very humorous and very well-written!

workinghard 6 years, 3 months ago

flclhack--I think it's just you. Irish--Some of us do. Here was a 14yr old that accomplished something great when most kids were getting in trouble or sitting around all day playing video games. She deserves to be recognized for her accomplishments and not let someone else try to take away what is rightfully hers, the maker of the first guinea pig movie. If it didn't matter, neither would all of the things in the Guiness book of world records. We need more kids like Alyssa was. Kudos to her mother for supporting her efforts all the way.

grammaddy 6 years, 3 months ago

Kudos to Alyssa! She used real guinea pigs not computer animations.

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