THE ROCK FATHER's 2015 Greatest Hits
I started off January with a bump in the road - a surgery that threw me off my fitness routine and caused me to gain back much of the weight I'd lost in 2014. Still struggling to get back into that same 4-day-a-week workout routine, but I'm working on it.
February brought a return to Los Angeles with the Disney press group to cover McFARLAND, USA (The Walt Disney Studios), FRESH OFF THE BOAT (ABC), BIG HERO 6 (Walt Disney Animation Studios) BAD HAIR DAY (Disney Channel) and TINKERBELL AND THE LEGEND OF THE NEVERBEAST (DisneyToon Studios). Going behind-the-scenes and interviewing the key talent from those projects was fantastic, and while in Los Angeles, my friend Rob and I checked out Valora at House of Blues - a band I'd wanted to see, in a legendary venue set to close. Back in Chicago, I hit the Chicago Auto Show and checked out a Chicago Bulls Game with the crew from Kia Motors America, and then ended up quoted in Businesswire.
March brought the good fortune to head back to L.A. where I worked with Larry King, learned that Craig's is my new favorite restaurant, and reconvened with the band I manage - PRODUCT OF HATE - who were on tour with Allegaeon and playing in Glendale. By April, the tour was back in Illinois, and by May I was catching my favorite band of all-time, FAITH NO MORE, here in Chicago - the first of two times I'd see them this year.
The folks from Hasbro invited us to celebrate TRANSFORMERS at BotCon, then it was out to Cleveland as part of my gig as a Brand Ambassador for The Step2 Company. We went over some new products, played with a lot of toys, and caught a Cleveland Indians game before I headed back to Illinois for four hours, then boarded another plane to Los Angeles to work with Disney again. I visited the sets of GAMER'S GUIDE TO PRETTY MUCH EVERYTHING (Disney XD) and LIV & MADDIE & BUNK'D (Disney Channel), watched Disney's DESCENDANTS with director Kenny Ortega, found myself featured in an interview in Clever Girls Collective's blog, did late-night karaoke in North Hollywood, then interviewed Michael Douglas, Evangeline Lily, Paul Rudd, Corey Stoll and the key creatives behind MARVEL's ANT-MAN. This would culminate with a discussion with the #Antourage, which aside from Michael Pena and David Dastmalchian (with whom I share a Wendy's past), ended in a hug from rapper T.I.
We hit the road for our second annual Great American Road Trip, heading Northwest to MALL OF AMERICA, posting countless updates along the way. The kids had a fantastic time at Nickelodeon Universe, and Finley got her first American Girl Bitty Baby. Back in Illinois, we did our long overdue first Chicago White Sox game, then I drove a Lexus GS350 F-Sport to Grand Rapids, Michigan where I would test-drive the pre-production model Scion iM and iA. There was the Wizard World Chicago Comic-Con (Addie drove K.I.T.T. from KNIGHT RIDER) and Lake Count-I-Con. Then there were countless visits to Six Flags Great America, and eventually a sneak-preview of what's coming soon - the JUSTICE LEAGUE BATTLE FOR METROPOLIS 4D!
I made a rare appearance in the photo pit (something I haven't done in ages) for Riot Fest Chicago - shooting photos of ANTHRAX, BOOTSY COLLINS, MERLE HAGGARD, RANCID and FAITH NO MORE to kick-off the Fall.
We started the #RockFatherRemodel (in-progress) here at Rock Father HQ, partnered with Step2 and Mattel to create a two-of-a-kind "Rock Daughter Edition" Hot Wheels Bed, and then, after all of this - plus testing many cars, toys, and having a bunch of other adventures... I was invited to the Global Press Event for STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS. Having already worked with Hasbro in promotion of #ForceFriday, and then having appeared in a Target Commercial for their #ShareTheForce Campaign, it was the ultimate cherry on top of the year.
"Aside from the birth of our daughters, and possibly our wedding, the experience of being part of the first-ever Disney STAR WARS launch is something that will probably never be topped," so said my wife when explaining my final Los Angeles trip of the year - one in which had me meeting and interviewing the cast and crew of the new STAR WARS film... the continuation of my favorite Saga. She's probably right. I even made my first (albeit brief) visit to Disneyland.
Exclusive Coverage of the STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS Launch:
- That's Right, R2... We're Going to the Global Press Event for STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS!
- A Visit to a Galaxy Far, Far Away... or STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS Global Press Event
- Interview: Harrison Ford (Han Solo)
- Interview: Daisy Ridley (Rey)
- Interview: John Boyega (Finn)
- Interview: Kathleen Kennedy, head of Lucasfilm
- Interview: Oscar Isaac (Poe Dameron) & Lupita Nyong'o (Maz Kanata)
- Interview: Filmmaker J.J. Abrams
- Fandango Family Movie Review - STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS
While in Los Angeles, I live-tweeted the premiere of THE GREAT CHRISTMAS LIGHT FIGHT with Carter Oosterhouse and Amy Smart, met the filmmakers of ZOOTOPIA, had brunch with Chris Harrison of THE BACHELOR, met with Timothy Omundson and the creatives behind GALAVANT, and visited the set of MARVEL's AGENT CARTER - and that coverage will still be hitting the site between now and February.
Thing is, the rambling list of adventures that I've already typed-up aren't even close to all of it. There's so many great things that have happened, so many important moments with the family - looking back through my Instagram feed (my best way to personally keep track of where we've been), it's exhausting.
As we end 2015, I feel certain that while this year was by far the best in my professional life, it's not all downhill from here... instead, I've simply reached a plateau, and now I'm looking upward at a never-ending mountain that continues to challenge me with its climb. A HUGE thank you to my wife and daughters, my family, my friends, to everyone that reads this website, to those who support my creative endeavors, to all the new friends and colleagues that I've met along the way, and to anyone who simply believes in what I'm doing.
So what does 2016 have in store? Back to Los Angeles in January for a secret project (Shhhhhh!); PRODUCT OF HATE's debut album, BURIED IN VIOLENCE is out on February 5 via Napalm Records (Distributed by Warner Bros - U.S./Universal Music - Europe); Chicago Auto Show 2016 in February; and I'm back behind the camera and in the Director's Chair in January!