R.I.P. Gary Garcia of “Pac Man Fever” Fame : Now It’s time For Hollywood To Make A Movie About “Pac Man Fever”

By Jeff Fulton

To create a song that has mass appeal is among the most difficult things you’ll ever do.”

Jerry Buckner


According to Gamasutra, Gary Garcia, 1/2 of Buckner and Garcia died yesterday.   Back in February we contacted Jerry Buckner about he 30th Anniversary of  Pac-Man and Buckner And Garcia’s song, “Pac Man Fever”.   At the time we thought it would be cool for Hollyqood to make a movie about their story.  Today, we think it is essential!  Come on Hollywood producers, “the 80’s” are hot right now, and what what could be better than a “rise and fall” fable about music and video games combined?

Below is the original story from earlier this year:

2011 is the 30th Anniversary of Pac-Man, so it seems like it would be appropriate for someone to make a movie about the game. However, I don’t think they should make a documentary  about the making of Pac-Man, nor do I think they should make 3D animated version of Pac-Man’s world.  Instead, I believe the world would be much better place if we all could go down to multi-plex to see:

Buckner And Garcia – The Pac-Man Fever Movie

Lest you think I’m jesting, I’m not at all.  I truly believe this would make an amazing movie.  Buckner And Garcia were a couple of struggling Midwestern professional musicians when they came-up with their hit song Pac-Man Fever in 1981.   They rode on a wave of fame, until their record company forced them to record a full album of ill-advised video game songs, which became their undoing.  Their big follow-up was supposed to be a song about E.T. (a song that Steven Spielberg liked and applauded), but it was shelved by their record company in favor of a song by industry vet Neil diamond (a song that Steven Spielberg sued them over!!).  Like so many other artists who were bitten by big record companies, Buckner and Garcia don’t even own the rights to their original recordings, and instead had to re-record them in 1999 for a re-release. Buckner and Garcia are the heroic “every man” in this tale.  Their song was bought-up by a big record company, exploded ito the mainstream.  Not too long after, Buckner And Garcia  were spit back out by the music industry machine, a machine that itself was headed on a road to destruction. The movie would be “outsiders view” of the excesses  of an industry that was corroding from within, even though few people realized it at the time.

Told this way, the movie would  be  a “one hit wonder, rise to fame, look how the record industry works/worked, and why it needed to die in 21st century” sort of tale.   After their song is rejected by every major label, the two guys take it upon themselves to get the song played on local radio…and it takes off!   The record industry then swoops in and their lives are changed, irrevocably forever.   This is 1982, so the record industry was still full of big-headed  A&R men and producers,  glitzy 70’s and 80’s rock stars,  drugs, booze, etc.   They become the audience’s eyes into this crazy 80’s world.  Their names are in Time magazine, they appear on Solid Gold, Entertainment Tonight and American Bandstand.  MTV even holds Pac-Man Fever Day, and the pair and their song help fuel the video ad video game craze of 1982.

The pair would also get embroiled in the controversies of the day: the parents groups and political anglers who tried to use the video game craze to further their agendas.  Recently, Jerry Buckner, relayed this story to us about their time in the spotlight:

“Once we were in New York to do a special show on the Nickelodeon channel. It was a Phil Donahue type format with a studio audience and a host. As guests they had a couple celebrities, some kids who were game champions, a rep from Namco, two women representing an anti-video game organization trying to outlaw video games and of course us. We were all stuffed in a room together backstage and prior to the show the women got into a huge argument with the Namco rep. We were sitting next to the women and starting to sweat it because we figured as the guys who did Pac Man Fever we would be next to receive the wrath of these women. Suddenly when someone pointed us out the main woman of the group leaned over to me and politely whispered in my ear that her daughter loved our record and could she get an autograph. She couldn’t have been nicer. So we signed autographs and she thank us and then she proceeded to go on national TV and rip the video game industry apart. It was unbelievable.”

However, they it turns out, the pair are being played as pawns in game they cannot win. The record company makes them record  7 new video game songs in three weeks (by the way, most of which are surprisingly polished and professional pop songs for the short recording window showing that these guys were very talented ).  The album solidifies Buckner And Garcia as a novelty act, something they were trying to avoid.   They try to bridge the gap to a regular career with a song about the movie E.T.,  but their efforts are paved over by the same industry that shot them to fame. The record industry doesn’t really understand video games, they treat the whole episode as a joke, and Buckner and Garcia fall with the video game crash.  Their travails with the E.T. song and CBS records  would be juxtaposed against Atari’s travails with E.T. game and Warner Bros.   They become inexorably tied to the fall of a video game industry that is, ironically, being led into an oblivion by Warner Communications, also (in part) a record company.  The evil record industry strikes again!

While the movie would follow the story of Buckner and Garcia, the underlying theme would be that of  generational clash and the excesses of an industry gone  off the rails.  The subtext would be about a moment in time when the music industry had the future (video games) dropped in their lap,  how they blew it, ignored technology,  and became irrelevant. Now in the 21st century, it is an industry desperately trying claw it’s way back to place where can compete with the same video game industry they left behind.  Irony.   Print it, done, Academy Awards all around.

As to whether Buckner and Garcia are up for the idea of a movie about their rise to fame, Buckner told us:

We have received a lot of questions and suggestions over the years but I must say yours is the most original. To answer your question, no we have not had anyone approach us with a script idea for a movie about us it is very interesting. I will tell you that we did have a lot of crazy moments and sometimes funny things happen when the record was out in 1982

So, hey movie industry, go ahead buy the story from Buckner and Garcia, (now just Buckner I suppose). You are welcome in advance.

-Steve Fulton (8bitsteve)

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