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James Zahn

James Zahn

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 writes a regular Star Wars column - Transmissions from a Galaxy Far, Far Away for The Pop Insider. He also 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.

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Perhaps it was a bit of foreshadowing, but at San Diego Comic-Con International last month, there was a display in the Hasbro booth that showed two dolls from their Disney Descendants collection suspended in an underwater scene behind glass. There was a note to make it clear that this was solely an artistic representation - not a playset for sale, but the underwater adventure was being shared by Mal and Uma. Now comes the surprise news that on September 28, Disney Channel with air Under the Sea: A Descendants Story - an all-new short film featuring those very characters. Check out a teaser below!

Shhhh! A couple of weeks back, I paid a visit to Walt Disney Animation Studios in Burbank, California for an early look at Ralph Breaks the Internet. Unfortunately, as of this writing everything I saw is under embargo - which means I can't tell you about anything... yet. But the long-awaited sequel will be hitting theaters in November, and today comes a fresh look at a new character and a new environment from the film - officially unveiled, so we can talk about that. In a new sneak-peek, audiences get their first look at Gal Gadot (Wonder Woman) as the voice of Shank, the tough and talented driver in an intense online racing game called Slaughter Race. Of course there's also a new look at the Disney Princesses, too. Check this out...

From Director Ken Marino, DOG DAYS (reviewed here) is now playing in theaters everywhere, and ahead of its U.S. release, I had the opportunity to attend the the film's World Premiere at the Westfield Century City in Los Angeles, California. It was a sunny Sunday afternoon in L.A., but the stars were were out to see what I've already pegged as being "a late summer surprise" - a comedy about an unrelated group of people and how their canine companions somehow managed to bring them all together.

With Disney's Christopher Robin (reviewed here) delighting audiences with a tale of what happened when the most famous boy of The Hundred Acre Wood grew up, I recently had the chance to catch up with Director Marc Forster to discuss the production. While the entire genesis is fascinating - largely prompted a plane ride with his daughter in which she mentioned doing a Winnie the Pooh movie, what I was most interested in was the lived-in and much-loved look of the characters.  Seeing Winnie the Pooh, Tigger, Piglet, Eeyore, Kanga and Roo, Owl and Rabbit realized in "live-action" thanks to the magic of CGI aided by real-world puppetry was wondrous, but I was curious how they arrived at what we see on screen... characters that looked to be a combination of the "Classic Pooh" from the books by A.A. Milne and E.H. Shepard along with flourishes taken from the famous Disney animated versions...

The birth rates might be down, but contrary to what some might have you think - yes, people are still having babies... even Millennials. With the loss of Babies "R" Us during the Toys "R" Us collapse this past year, new parents looking for a spot to check out the latest in baby gear are finding that there may soon be more places to buy than ever before, and the latest is a bit of an unexpected one: JCPenny. The iconic retailer has had their own share of struggles with evolution over the past few years, but they're still working on it, this week announcing the opening of JCPenny Baby Shops in 500 stores.

Kids should be allowed to be kids and enjoy the freedom of unstructured imaginative play. That's a message that I've spoken of often, and it's one that's placed firmly at the heart of Disney's Christopher Robin. In that film, Christopher (Ewan McGregor) has grown up, and as a father himself, he's forgotten about the importance and magic of play. For his daughter, Madeline (Bronte Carmichael), childhood is headed in a bleaker direction until some familiar characters from The Hundred Acre Wood arrive, reminding Christopher of what once was and what still could be. In Los Angeles last week, I had a chance to meet with the 11-year-old actress inhabiting the role of Madeline to discuss the experience of joining Winnie the Pooh and friends for their first live-action adventure. Already a professional actor with a bright career ahead of her, how does Bronte play?

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