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.
At the 115th North American International Toy Fair in New York City, I was in the room for the February unveiling of Hasbro's first-ever HasLab project - a crowdfunding effort meant to bring to life one of the most-requested Star Wars toys of all-time: Jabba's Sail Barge (The Khetanna). While I support the idea of this project and the methods behind it, I have questioned whether this particular toy is being produced 30 years too late, as the $500 price tag put it firmly in the collector realm. Additionally, it needs a minimum of 5,000 backers by April 3 to become a reality, and as of this writing they're still 2,000 away from that mark with 13 days to go. I've been saying that this is something special that needs to get in front of a different audience - not necessarily those who collect Star Wars toys regularly, but those who might be looking for one high-end piece to display, possibly for an office or theater room. With a photo debut on EW this morning, that may have finally happened, but my friends at Hasbro just sweetened the deal. They just provided me with a timelapse video showing the prototype being painted, along with a full gallery of photos (see them on The Rock Father™ Facebook page). Check out the video below, and if you want this to become a reality, hit up the HasLab website and #BackTheBarge!
Despite all the great stuff I had a chance to check out at Toy Fair in New York City last month, there were still some companies that I missed, and one that I really wish I'd had a chance to see was Mezco. I've long-admired their detailed collectibles, and today comes news that their One:12 Collective Ghostbusters are suited-up and ready to hit the streets! This fantastic five-figure deluxe set features all four of the original Ghostbusters plus a supernatural bonus figure: Slimer! Aimed at the adult collector, each Ghostbuster comes with their own light-up proton pack and is packaged in a special edition metal tin. Check out all the specs below...
If you thought it was sad when Toys "R" Us filed a motion to liquidate its remaining U.S. stores, that was just the beginning. The memes circulated quickly with images of a tearful Geoffrey the Giraffe, often accompanied by a viral video of the iconic Toys "R" Us jingle performed "in a minor key" (I'd share it here, but frankly, I just didn't think it was very good). Nearly a week has passed since that motion was filed, with the fate of over 33,000 jobs hanging in the balance. Retail workers on the front lines had to deal with an onslaught of rude customers this past weekend, many fussing over a "lack of sales" at the 735 stores that hadn't already been slated to close. The customer abuse from deal hunters was reported from coast to coast, with some stores placing makeshift signs at their doors and on their store-run Instagram accounts to remind the public that those responsible are not at store level, and to please tread lightly in dealing with workers who will soon be out of a job. On Sunday came word to cancel all upcoming store events... and on Monday the call went out to hire temporary workers to fill 60-90 day positions to assist in purging warehouses and closing stores. The moves were happening without approval from the Bankruptcy Court... but now that approval has been granted. After an 8+ hour hearing on March 20, Judge Keith L. Phillips ruled that Toys "R" Us could proceed with the liquidation plan that they'd filed on March 15. What will take place in the days and weeks ahead is already being called "the largest retail liquidation in U.S. history."
My inbox has been exploding since Sunday, and yes - things are getting weird. Last weekend, THE ROCK FATHER™ Magazine was the first to report on the plans of Strategic Marks, LLC's plan to revive the KB Toys brand in the wake of the Toys "R" Us collapse. The news spread quickly, leading to excitement, speculation, and mostly the question of "how?" Over the past few days, I've exchanged messages with Ellia Kassoff, head of Strategic Marks, who promised more news soon on the launch and how they plan to "revive and rebuild" the once iconic retailer. Now we have a little more insight, and it came from an unexpected source - the New York Post. Turns out, some familiar players in the pop-up game just might be getting in on the action.
Last year, audiences embraced WONDER, the cinematic adaptation of author R.J. Palacio's #1 New York Times best-selling book. Starring Julia Roberts, Owen Wilson and Jacob Tremblay, the story of 10-year old Auggie Pullman was brought to life on screen - the inspirational journey of a child faced with a host of challenges as he makes the jump from homeschool to middle school, fighting to fit-in as a child with Treacher Collins Syndrome. At the heart of the story is a message of kindness that's been resonating with readers since 2012, and thanks to the success of the film, Random House Children’s Books has been continuing the movement to inspire families, educators and young readers nationwide to #ChooseKind as they seek to foster a culture of inclusion, where bullying no longer exists.
At SXSW earlier this month, Rian Johnson mentioned that a special "score-only" edition of Star Wars: The Last Jedi was on the way. This weekend it did arrive, hitting as a digital-exclusive via the Movies Anywhere service, and it's only available for a limited time. Playing like a silent film, this presents a unique way to experience the latest chapter of the Star Wars Saga, with John Williams' score taking center stage. To unlock the score-only version of the film, simply sign-up for Movies Anywhere and link your digital retailer account where you purchased your digital copy. They haven't said when this limited time window will expire, but Star Wars: The Last Jedi, is now available on digital and arrives on Blu-ray & 4K on Tuesday, March 27th. Check out a teaser for the score-only version below!