James Zahn is not a journalist, nor a blogger, though he may be credited as such by others, or even accept the title... depending on the circumstance. Instead, he considers himself largely to be an "entertainment and lifestyle writer," bringing 25+ years of experience in the entertainment and publishing industries into the family realm as THE ROCK FATHER™.
As a media personality, commentator, adventurer and raconteur, James now finds himself raising a pair young girls - The Rock Daughters™ - along with his wife from their Illinois home.
He is a member of The Toy Insider Parent Advisory Board, has contributed to The Toy Book and regularly serves as a Brand Ambassador and spokesperson for several Globally-recognized pop culture and lifestyle brands in addition to consulting for a number of toy manufacturers.
Creatively, James has directed/edited music videos, lyric videos, and album trailers for bands such as FEAR FACTORY, has appeared as an actor in feature films and commercials, written comic books, and performed in bands. He currently serves as an artist manager and video director for PRODUCT OF HATE, whose debut album was released by Napalm Records in 2016, distributed by ADA/Warner Music in the U.S. with Universal Music handling global.
James and/or his work have been featured in/on CNN, FOX Business, NBC, ABC, WGN, G4, The Chicago Tribune, BusinessWire, Babble, Fangoria, Starlog and more. He's appeared as a music expert on CNN's AC360 alongside Anderson Cooper, and has been interviewed by Larry King. In the past he served as a writer for the Netflix Stream Team, Fandango Family and PBS KIDS, penned articles for Sprout and PopSugar, and was a contributor to Chicago Parent.
Learn more here.
Unless I happen to be in Los Angeles for a premiere, I tend to skip the advance screenings of upcoming films. In large part it's due to being 50 miles outside of Chicago proper, which makes attending the advances logistically difficult - but there are exceptions. Star Wars is the one franchise that I consciously avoid attending press screenings for, even though it's the series that most would expect that I'd absolutely want to see early. The reason for that is that the Star Wars films are something special for our family, and for the modern films that Lucasfilm has been releasing under Disney ownership, the tradition is that my wife and I see them at the Thursday night "preview" showings, and then take our daughters to see them over the weekend. My personal connection to Star Wars runs deep, and I was there working with Disney to promote the launch of J.J. Abrams' Star Wars: The Force Awakens in 2015, on the ground at the Global Media Event to play a small part in ushering in a new era of Star Wars - a return to the saga that many felt would never happen. Now, with the release of Solo: A Star Wars Story, I think we've reached a point where all generations should be enjoying these films more than ever before... if they'd just let themselves have some fun.
If you've ever seen Back to the Future, played a game of Mouse Trap or watched a recent OK Go video (particularly "This Too Shall Pass"), then you've seen a Rube Goldberg Machine. These creations are elaborate, generally ridiculous machines that are crafted for the purpose of accomplishing a mundane task... like brewing a cup of coffee or feeding your dog. Rube Goldberg has been called "the grandfather of S.T.E.M." due to the enduring legacy of his iconic illustrations. Goldberg was a Pulitzer Prize-winning engineer and cartoonist, and his "invention cartoons" were the blueprint for countless contraptions that now bear his name. In 1988, things became official with the start of the RUBE GOLDBERG MACHINE CONTEST®, originally as a college competition. Three decades later, the annual contest encourages student inventors from across the country to create the best machines that they can, and for the 30th Anniversary, the 2018 contest came to a conclusion in Chicago.
On June 10, REELZ Channel will drop the curtain on their new original docu-series, Breaking the Band. Season one will take a look at the battling egos, power struggles and inter-band rivalries that split up The Beatles, The Supremes, Fleetwood Mac, The Eagles, The Beach Boys, N.W.A, Van Halen and Sonny and Cher. From crippling drug addictions to scandalous affairs Breaking the Band uncovers the incredible true stories by recreating the key moments the cameras missed in addition to using rare band interviews and off-stage footage to piece together each dramatic tale. The folks at REELZ sent over a short clip, which I debuted on Twitter this morning. Check it out below...
As Lucasfilm's Solo: A Star Wars Story comes out of hyperspace to land in theaters, the marketing partnerships, collaborations and thematic tie-ins are hitting full swing. Over at AMC Theatres, their MacGuffins Bar & Lounge continues to roll out some creative cocktails inspired by some of the biggest theatrical releases of the year, and for Solo they've got a good one. Toplined by Dan Aykroyd's Crystal Head Vodka, "The Scoundrel" is a beverage that looks exactly like something that Lando Calrissian would be whipping up in his bar aboard the Millennium Falcon (yes, it has a bar!*). Between blasting bounty hunters, ducking gangsters and avoiding the law, being a scoundrel is thirsty work. Satisfy your thirst with a mix of Crystal Head Vodka, blue curacao, house-made lemonade and a splash of Chambord...
Movies and snacks go together like Han and Chewie, and with the release of Lucasfilm's Solo: A Star Wars Story, the folks at popchips have a snacking suggestion. A special package arrived in my mailbox here at Rock Father HQ this week - one that contained a bag of popchips Galaxy Puffs and pair of tickets to see Solo: A Star Wars Story at the local Regal Cinemas. It's said "Hey James! This is the box you're looking for!," and contained a note to emphasize that "great movies deserve great snacks," and that they've delivered "the best snack in the galaxy" to "take your taste buds to hyperspace." Now I'm sure that "best snack in the galaxy" is subjective, as Jabba the Hutt tends to prefer a jar of those little frog-like creatures, the Ewoks will forage for just about anything, and who knows what Wuher is serving-up at the Mos Eisley Cantina these days. But these aged cheddar puffs are pretty good - and it's said that they're "Popped with The Force."
One of my favorite childhood toys is coming back to television after a successful relaunch last year. Wicked Cool Toys and their partner Alchemy II, Inc. have teamed up with The Jim Henson Company to develop an animated fantasy adventure series for kids ages 3-7 based on Teddy Ruxpin.