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When it comes to collaboration between filmmaker and composer, the relationship between Steven Spielberg and John Williams is about as solid as it gets. Starting in 1974 with Sugarland Express, Williams has scored all but two of Spielberg's films, most recently providing the music for 2016's The BFG, and already on-deck for 2018's Ready Player One. Over the years, the music from their collaborative efforts has been issued in a couple of different collections, but the ever-expanding library hasn't had an updated "greatest hits" in quite awhile. That changes on March 17, 2017, when Sony Masterworks releases John Williams & Steven Spielberg: The Ultimate Collection. Check out the tracklisting and details below.

Thursday, February 16 2017 11:40

Keeping up Defenses for Mid-Winter Adventures...

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THE ROCK FATHER has created this post as part of a #sponsored series with Socialstars and Zicam®; all opinions are that of James Zahn. #ZicamCrowd

Passing the midway mark in February is always a weird thing when it comes to my overall mood. It's that mid-winter time when you can tell that spring is lurking in the distance (regardless what that jerk, Punxsutawney Phil says), and soon things will brighten up. What bothers me most is the gloom that tends to hang high above the bridge between February and March, and as someone that prides himself on a well-manicured lawn and landscape, seeing the grass matted down, brown, dry, and looking like debris-infested straw is just depressing. Everything needs to be cleaned-up, but I just know that there's another blast of snow (or two) still yet to come, as the temperature continues to swing between sub-zero and the fifties as erratic as an off-balance washing machine. One thing that breaks the gloom is an adventure, and whether it be more travel, or simply some big events close to home, one thing that can really put a damper on things is a cold. Yes, a cold... that looming enemy that's always chasing me, and forever seeking a fight. My arsenal must be ready. 

In the ramp-up to the 2015 release of JJ Abrams' Star Wars: The Force Awakens, one of the biggest events was the first-ever "Force Friday" - the official launch of merchandise tied to the release of the film. I went all-in for the launch, joining Hasbro in posting daily entries from their "Force Friday Countdown" calendar (a new Star Wars toy featured every day for four months - see them here). Last year, when Gareth Edwards' Rogue One: A Star Wars Story came around, no one really knew what to call the launch, bouncing back-and-forth between "Rogue Friday" and "Force Friday," but today we learn that the latter was incorrect, as Disney & Lucasfilm have officially announced that September 1, 2017 is FORCE FRIDAY II - the official launch of new toys and merch from Rian Johnson's Star Wars: The Last Jedi! Check out the details and your first-look at the new toy packaging below!

Wednesday, February 15 2017 10:01

Metallica's Parenting/Work Schedule is Pretty... Familiar

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When I first started this site after switching gears some years back (the result of having kids and being dubbed "The Rock Father™") - the original concept involved regular features on "fellow Rock Fathers" as we shared stories about raising kids while juggling work in the entertainment industries. While the site has evolved, I generally don't focus too much on that aspect of things (sans Father's Day time), but once in awhile something comes up that needs to be shared. A perfect example is last night's appearance by METALLICA drummer Lars Ulrich on The Late Late Show with James Corden. Turns out that Hardwired... to Self-Destruct was recorded during the day, while the band members' kids were at school. As Lars details his own running between kids in multiple schools and the "Parent Taxi Service," his schedule seems pretty familiar, especially since I'm typing these digital words in the space between dropping off and picking up the youngest from Pre-K. Check out the interview below...

Wednesday, February 15 2017 08:14

Giveaway: Get Ready to Rock with ROCK DOG!

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On February 24, Lionsgate Premiere will unleash ROCK DOG, a fun new animated adventure from Ash Brannon, co-director of Surf's Up and Toy Story 2. The tale of a wide-eyed Tibetan Mastiff that leaves home to fulfill his dream of becoming a musician after a radio falls from the sky and into his possession, ROCK DOG features the voice talents of Luke Wilson (Bodi), Eddie Izzard (Angus), J.K. Simmons (Khampa), Lewis Black (Linnux), Kenan Thompson (Riff), Mae Whitman (Darma), Jorge Garcia (Germur), with Matt Dillon (Trey) and Sam Elliott (Fleetwood Yak). To celebrate the release, Lionsgate has teamed up with The Rock Father™ to give readers a chance at scoring a ROCK DOG prize pack, including a $50 Visa Gift Card to see the film in theaters, plus a Beanie, Tambourine and Temporary Tattoo! Are YOU ready to ROCK?

One of the hottest new toys of 2017 here at Rock Father HQ is the latest American Girl - Girl of the Year (GOTY), Gabriella McBride. For the first time ever, the folks at Mattel revealed that their GOTY would remain available for the foreseeable future, and that change in routine was just the first move in what's shaping up to be a very big year. Ahead of Toy Fair getting started in New York this weekend, news has come down that American Girl will be introducing "a new series of contemporary characters and stories designed to speak to even more girls' interests, backgrounds, and experiences." It begins very soon - February 16 with the release of Tenney Grant, "a rising star in the Nashville music scene," and her drummer - American Girl's first-ever boy character, Logan Everett.

Tuesday, February 14 2017 08:05

Hot Wheels 2017 Holiday Racers - Valentine's Day

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If you happen to take a peek at the selection in your local retailer's aisle of toy cars, there just might be a holiday surprise hidden within the mainline Hot Wheels (the ones that are priced around $1). One sub-collection this year is the 2017 Holiday Racers - a series of five cars, four of which have been revealed. There's Halloween (Poppa Wheelie), Christmas (16 Angels), New Year's (Poppa Wheelie) and the one that I'm sharing since it's Valentine's Day: Rodger Dodger. This classic Hot Wheels ride was originally issued back in 1974 and has been done in many variations since, but for 2017 it's presented in candy apple red with gold accents to celebrate Cupid's favorite day.

Monday, February 13 2017 23:33

Metallica Announces WorldWired 2017 North American Tour

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Metallica today announced their WorldWired 2017 North American tour in support of their new album Hardwired...To Self-Destruct. The WorldWired 2017 tour is produced by Live Nation and  kicks off on May 10th in Baltimore, MD at M&T Bank Stadium. The tour will crisscross its way across North America into the summer, marking the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees and Grammy® Award winning band's first proper North American tour since 2009. Avenged Sevenfold and Volbeat will be the main support acts for the tour run. See below for a list of all confirmed dates.  

Mega ConstruxIt was probably 1983 or '84, and at some point my parents bought me a set of Fisher-Price Construx. The cool new building set used grey beams with colorful accent pieces, connectors and plates that allowed kids like myself to create some interesting structures and vehicles. I distinctly remember creating "Doozer" towers at one point. While the line didn't really last long, the name has been used off-and-on, but not for awhile. Now, Mattel has resurrected the name as a new sub-brand to help better distinguish between the two main divisions of the MEGA Brands umbrella - now known as Mega Bloks and Mega Construx. The launch is in-progress, and I'm digging the new campaign - particularly, "The Beyonders." 

On Friday, February 17, my friends at The Toy Insider are serving-up a #CupcakeSurprise... Twitter Party! Sponsored by Sunny Days Entertainment, the crew will be talking toys, and giving followers a shot at winning some fun new dolls. During the party, four winners will win a set of three Cupcake Surprise dolls, and one lucky grand prize winner will win a set of SIX Cupcake Surprise dolls! RSVP here, and be sure to join from 11am-12pm ET!

2017 CAS LogoAs The LEGO Batman Movie soars into theaters this weekend, it's pretty appropriate that The Batmobile is in the Windy City. After all, Chicago doubled for Gotham City back when Christopher Nolan was crafting his Dark Knight Trilogy. Thing is, this Batmobile is a much different beast. The 2017 LEGO Batmobile from Chevrolet made its official debut in Detroit last month, a life-sized replica of "The Speedwagon" driven by LEGO Batman (voiced by Will Arnett) in the new film. Now, that ride, crafted from a total of 344,187 LEGO bricks supported by a square-tube aluminum frame, is sitting in McCormick Place, the result of 222 hours of design time, and 1,833 hours of construction by LEGO Master Builders. For it's appearance at The Chicago Auto Show, the LEGO Batmobile sits in front of a brick wall illuminated by moving Bat (and Chevy) signals, each zeroing in on LEGO Batman himself! As a bonus, kids can take part in their very own LEGO Batmobile mini-build, available for free to take home! We had a chance to check out the full display during the Media Preview - take a look...

2017 CAS LogoIn putting together my annual preview coverage of the Chicago Auto Show this year, I decided it was time to mix things up a bit and get even more of the family involved. After all, the Chicago Auto Show touts itself as a family-friendly event, and as someone who grew up attending the show and now takes his own kids, handing over coverage to a pair of younger eyes seemed like an obvious thing to do. It's no secret that The Rock Daughters™ are well-versed in four-wheeled, fun - a pair of girls with more Hot Wheels than I ever had as a kid, semi-skilled drivers (of Power Wheels and the like) themselves, and a fixture in my coverage of "grownup" rides. In fact, whenever a press fleet vehicle arrives here at Rock Father HQ, if the girls are home, they'll go outside with me to greet the driver. So, for 2017, a plan came together for our oldest daughter, Addie, to attend one of the pre-show "Media Preview" days with me, armed with a camera to capture the show through the eyes of a child. In an age where what and "who" constitutes "media" is evolving, websites and YouTube Channels are helping drive the age of reporters to a much younger level, as a new generation of auto lovers prepares to take the torch and run with it into the future - a concept that might even be threatening for some.* Here's a look at Addie's photos, along with some Rock Father Picks for family activities at this year's Chicago Auto Show!

I don't know that most people expected DreamWorks' Trolls to be as big as it's been, particularly on the spin-off front. With its colorful characters, vibrant world, sing-along soundtrack and positive message, kids have been inspired to create their own Trolls-inspired projects that keep the spirit of "happy" going long after the end credits have rolled. Now, with the film having come home on Digital HD, Blu-ray and DVD, my friends at 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment have partnered with a variety of writers and creative types (including yours truly) to come up with some fun projects to do at home. Armed with a box of supplies graciously delivered by the folks at Fox, The Rock Daughters™ and I set out to craft something awesome. Thing is, I realized after we were well underway that I'm just not very good at the whole "crafting" thing, and that there's others out there who have some really impressive project ideas. But, that's actually not what's important - the real importance is in having fun and fostering creativity, no matter how things turn out.

By now, you probably know that my affection for the 1980s runs deep, hence the return of MADBALLS was a welcome one. I reviewed the Series 1 batch of Just Play's 2017 Madballs here on the site, and now there's a chance for YOU to share in the gross-out fun! Join The Toy Insider this Friday, February 10, 2017 from 11am-12pm ET for the #Madballs Twitter Party! Click here to RSVP!

2017 CAS LogoThe best quote I've seen from an auto exec this year? "A 12-second quarter mile, toy-hauling, three-row muscle car." Tim Kuniskis of Dodge on the 2018 Durango SRT

The 2017 Chicago Auto Show is about to kick into high-gear, and the Dodge and SRT brands are rocking the high-performance automotive world once again, bringing a huge burst of American power, acceleration and best-in-class tow capability to the three-row SUV segment with the new 2018 Dodge Durango SRT  (the fastest SUV in its class). Debuting in Chicago this week, the Durango will make its way into dealerships later this year. Now, check out this burnout!