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Wednesday, March 22 2017 23:54

Racing into San Francisco for the Cars 3 Event...

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The Rock Father™ is collaborating with Disney Pixar for the #Cars3Event

Over the course of four decades, I've had some adventures. In fact, some have been so unique, that I fully expect to one day become that white-haired old grandpa, who sits and spins tales so elaborate that younger generations don't know whether to believe them or not. As a grown-up, I've explored many career paths, my interests casting a wide net, quite possibly inspired by my own lineage. Even as a child, there were some uncommon experiences, and those adventures helped shape who I am today, though certain interests have gone dormant at times, only to be reignited somewhere later down the road. A love of cars and racing is a prime example, something once fueled by my dad's 70's/80's gig as a track announcer for UARA and World of Outlaw Midgets, and later doing NASCAR at the legendary (and sadly, closed) Santa Fe Speedway. As my adult life veered me toward exploits in music, television, film and writing, it was the birth of our daughters that brought all-things automotive back to the forefront. What we think really did it was Disney•Pixar's Cars... specifically, 2011's Cars 2. Addie was absolutely enamored by Lightning McQueen and Holley Shiftwell, and that ignited an octane-obsession that led to an impressive collection of Hot Wheels. I thought she loved cars... but her little sister has a passion that's even bigger. Those girls are responsible for "Rock Father Rides" even existing, and it's completely exciting how everything has all come together. Next week, I'll be at Pixar Animation Studios, stepping into the world of Cars 3! Indeed, The Rock Daughters™ are bummed that they can't come with for this one.

March 27-29, 2017, I will once again be assembling with my friends from Disney, in a group of 25 writers and bloggers from around pop culture and parenting realm as we descend upon San Francisco to take part in the #Cars3Event, coordinated alongside the early press days for the upcoming film. At Pixar, we'll screen the new short film, LOU followed by a presentation with Director Dave Mullins and Producer Dana Murray. 

Pixar's LOU

Then we'll check out a screening of footage from Cars 3 (introduced by Director Brian Fee, Producer Kevin Reher and Co-Producer Andrea Warren). And that's just Monday.

Cars 3

On Tuesday, we'll be immersed in the high-speed world of the Piston Cup, heading over to Sonoma Raceway to meet with the creative minds and technical team that brought Cars 3 to life. We'll attend the Cars 3 press conference, get a crash-course on the history of stock car racing from Ray Evernham (Former Crew Chief for Hendrick Motorsports), and go through a session on pit crew training. Then, we'll hit the track for a full-speed ride-along!

Our adventures will be the catalyst for a series of exclusive Cars 3 coverage pieces right here on The Rock Father™ magazine in the months ahead... but this trip has some other surprises.

Who are the PUPPY DOG PALS? They're the fun-loving pug puppy brothers Bingo and Rolly, whose thrill-seeking appetites take them on adventures in their neighborhood and around the globe. Whether helping their owner, Bob, or assisting a friend in need, the pugs' motto is that life is more exciting with your best friend by your side. Created by comedian Harland Williams, and premiering on Disney Junior next month, the series features two 11-minute stories that showcase Bingo and Rolly's similarities and differences and demonstrate positive lessons about friendship, problem-solving, collaboration, creativity and adventure. Following the screening, Sean Coyle (executive producer) and Diane Ikemiyashiro (Disney Junior creative executive) will participate in a Q&A

Born In ChinaA new film from DisneyNature has become an Earth Day tradition, and Born in China is the latest. We'll screen the film and try not to be overcome by cuteness.

Narrated by John Krasinski (“13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi,” NBC’s “The Office,” “Amazon’s “Jack Ryan”), Disneynature's new True Life Adventure film “Born In China” takes an epic journey into the wilds of China where few people have ever ventured. Following the stories of three animal families, the film transports audiences to some of the most extreme environments on Earth to witness some of the most intimate moments ever captured in a nature film. A doting panda bear mother guides her growing baby as she begins to explore and seek independence. A two-year-old golden monkey who feels displaced by his new baby sister joins up with a group of free-spirited outcasts. And a mother snow leopard—an elusive animal rarely caught on camera—faces the very real drama of raising her two cubs in one of the harshest and most unforgiving environments on the planet. Featuring stunning, never-before-seen imagery, the film navigates China’s vast terrain—from the frigid mountains to the heart of the bamboo forest—on the wings of red-crowned cranes, seamlessly tying the extraordinary tales together. Opening in U.S. theaters on Earth Day 2017, “Born in China” is directed by accomplished Chinese filmmaker Lu Chuan, and produced by Disney’s Roy Conli and renowned nature filmmakers Brian Leith and Phil Chapman.  

And finally, something that I'm very excited about that I don't think many people know about yet: THE TOY BOX

As some of you may know, in addition to bringing you a lot of toy coverage right here, I'm also a member of the Parent Advisory Panel for The Toy Insider, often contributing columns there as well. Having served as a Brand Ambassador and consultant for a few different toymakers over the past few years (and as a Play Influencer for the Chicago Toy & Game Fair), the toy industry is a fascinating place for me, and I plan to become more of a fixture in it during the years ahead.  Here we have a competition series in which independent toy inventors pitch their wares for a chance to go to "The Toy Box."

Hosted by Modern Family's Eric Stonestreet, each contestant will pitch a trio of industry experts before facing some serious judges: kids. By the end of the 8-episode miniseries, one toymaker will win, and their creation will be produced by Mattel and sold exclusively at Toys "R" Us. I've already had a chance to screen two episodes of the series, and look forward to seeing more, accompanied by a Q&A with Pixar Creative Director of Consumer Products and THE TOY BOX Mentor, Jen Tan

Have questions? Just want to follow along and tweet with us in real-time? Follow these hashtags to see what we're up to: #Cars3Event, #PupptDogPalsEvent, #BornInChina, #TheToyBox and #ABCTVEvent.

Shop for officially licensed Disney - NASCAR Cars 3 Fan Gear at Store.NASCAR.com

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, a writer for the Netflix #StreamTeam, and 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. Current special projects include promotional campaigns for PJ Masks (eOne/Disney Junior) and Beat Bugs (Netflix). 

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 Napalm Records' PRODUCT OF HATE.

James and/or his work have been featured in/on CNN, 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  Fandango Family and PBS KIDS, penned articles for Sprout and PopSugar, and was a contributor to Chicago Parent.

Learn more here

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