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.
After taking a year off from Six Flags due to a hectic schedule for us, I surprised the family by purchasing season passes again - just in time for Fright Fest and Last Call for Fall last year. This year we plan to be there often, and one exciting announcement is for something that's looming far off in the horizon... for the first time in the park’s 42-year history, Six Flags Great America in Gurnee, Illinois is extending its operating season and inviting guests of all ages to be a part of the festivities at the new Six Flags Holiday in the Park. It's an event that's been requested for ages, but the Illinois weather is cold and unpredictable, so it's always been a "wish list" item that guests to other Six Flags parks have enjoyed. The new Holiday in the Park will feature more than one million LED lights, beautifully adorned Christmas trees, thrilling rides, enchanting shows, delicious seasonal food and dazzling park décor. The fun begins on Friday, November 23 and run weekends through Sunday, December 23 and daily December 26 – December 31.
As the ongoing saga of Toys "R" Us continues, there is some news to report. The biggest piece is one I'm a day late on sharing, but an important one nonetheless. After word hit yesterday that Isaac Larian, CEO of MGA Entertainment, Inc. had placed his formal bid for a piece of Toys "R" Us, many reported the news - some with conflicting numbers. This morning I received an official statement from Larian's team confirming and detailing the bid and what it entails. The formal bid of $675 million has been placed to buy the U.S stores, while $215 million has been offered to buy the Toys"R"Us stores in Canada. The funds to purchase both the U.S. and Canadian stores will come from Larian's own coffers, additional investors and bank financing. Bid amounts were determined after careful due diligence by Larian, speaking with multiple investors and 3rd party experts.
I write about KNIGHT RIDER a lot. It's 100% true that in my office you will find a small collection of Knight Rider memorabilia, plus an autographed photo of David Hasselhoff that that my friends at Disney were kind enough to send me when he was making the rounds for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 last year. It should be no surprise that the The Greatest Television Series of All-Time™ still has a massive following, and at the center of that is the Knight Industries Two Thousand, K.I.T.T. - KITT if you prefer. Over the years, KITT replicas have become a big thing, and I've seen a ton of them from absolutely beautiful to completely disappointing garbage. What you don't see very often is an actual, screen-used car that was involved in the series production from 1982-1986. They're rare, but a few exist, including one owned by the Knight Rider Historians - a group dedicated to sharing and preserving the history of the series. Earlier this month their car was featured in an episode of Jay Leno's Garage on YouTube and today I'm sharing that with you. In fairness, it's not even the best-looking K.I.T.T. out there (KITT Blasius may have that title right now), but because this car has history both during and after the series, this is a well-worth a watch. Check it out!
I do consider myself somewhat of a "hamburger enthusiast." I make a good one here at home, but like pizza it's something to marvel at in how you can have a food product so simple, yet prepared and served so very differently based on regional preferences and tastes. Hardee's is one of those regional staples in some spots, and while it's been married to Carl's Jr. for awhile, I always think of it with the orange and blue logo. In fact, I built a Monogram model kit of the #18 Days of Thunder Chevy Lumina back around 1990 or so, prominently displaying that Hardee's goodness in my bedroom at the time. NASCAR + burgers... a very American thing, and that's back on my mind with this - a giant hamburger on the ground outside Nashville... the creation of Stan Herd, an "earthworks" crop artist. This massive "crop burger" was created for Hardee's as part of their new #TastesLikeAmerica campaign. See video of its creation below. Does it make you hungry?
As modern Star Wars fans, we're pretty spoiled in that since 2015 we've been getting new films every year. We've seen Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015), Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016), Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017) and this year we've got Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018). And, as J.J. Abrams preps to shoot the Untitled Episode IX (2019), there's a new series of films from David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, a new Trilogy from Rian Johnson and a live-action television series from Jon Favreau all starting to take shape on the horizon. With each new film comes a new range of toys and collectibles, and in recent years we've seen that skew largely toward grownups - the "big kids" who were once little kids when the Original Trilogy (1977-1983) was released, or even stranger to me - the kids who grew up on the Prequel Trilogy (1999-2005). Along the way, I think that sometimes what gets lost is the fact that while many Star Wars toys are being purchased by collectors, there's always new generations who are just experiencing the Saga for the very first time. With that in mind, Hasbro is peppering the release of their new toys from Solo: A Star Wars Story with some new offerings from their Galactic Heroes line geared toward the youngest fans - ages 3-7. And like all the new product launches, there's not only characters from the latest film, but also those from the the past... or "a long time ago... in a galaxy far, far away." My friends at Entertainment Earth sent over one of those new toys - the Star Wars Galactic Heroes 2-in-1 Millennium Falcon, and we're going hands-on in The Toy Testing Facility at Rock Father™ HQ!
On April 17, Zen Studios' Pinball FX3 takes another trip to a galaxy far, far away with the release of Star Wars Pinball: The Last Jedi Pack. This new DLC brings to all-new tables to the platform, and the first is Ahch-To Island - the secluded hideaway where Luke Skywalker has been living for some years before Rey caught up with him. This week, a new trailer for that table has been released, but also I had a chance to go hands-on thanks to the folks at Zen Studios providing me with an early copy of the game for Xbox One (it's also available for PlayStation 4, Windows 10 and Steam, as well as for Zen Pinball on iOS, Mac and Android.) I fired up my Twitch Stream last night for a first run, and the most fun I had was when R2-D2 helped to activate the multi-ball, leading to a 66,214,354 high score on only my second round. See the new trailer and highlights from my Twitch Stream below!