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.
Learn more here.
2018 has been a pretty good year for holiday music thus far, but one thing we haven't heard much of is stuff on the heavier, more bizarre side of the spectrum. That should change on December 7th when <PIG> mastermind RAYMOND WATTS and regular collaborator EDEN release BLACK MASS - what they're calling "an unholy trinity of festive filth" - covers of holiday classics by John Lennon, Elvis Presley and WHAM!
Watts said the following: "I wanted to pay homage to the great Christmas songs, have fun with them but also take a stand against the ever rising tide of toxic bigotry in this increasingly brutal world while remembering there is a better part of ourselves. 'Happy Christmas (War Is Over)' in particular represents this whatever your beliefs may or may not be. 'Last Christmas' while being a great song from the irreplaceable George Michael (who left us two years ago this Christmas) also represents the fleeting nature of 'the season of goodwill'. 'Blue Christmas' resonates with anyone who is separated from a loved one at this time of year, whatever the reason, war zone or weather (and who doesn't want a go at being the King?) To that end these songs stand as an honour guard from the Lord of Lard."
BLACK MASS will be available for free download via Bandcamp, though a minimum donation is appreciated, with all proceeds going to INTERNATIONAL RESCUE COMMITTEE.
<PIG> most recently lit up the internet this past summer with a cover of KC & The Sunshine Band's 1975 hit, "That's the Way (I Like It)" featuring Sasha Grey.
This week, news hit the wires that General Mills has launched a search for talent in hopes of bringing their famed "Monster Cereals" characters to life on-screen. The cereals have been a breakfast staple for decades, and as the new "Work With the Monsters" website points out, they've been on the fringes of Hollywood since the 60s - but they've never had a big break of their own. Recent years have seen the Monsters enter the toy departments through licensing agreements with Mattel's Hot Wheels brand, Funko, and even Big G Creative for this year's excellent Monster Crunch Game. Now it's finally time to take things to the next level, and that means that I need to remind the folks at General Mills about something: I have the winning pitch. In fact, back in 2015, General Mills' Kevin Hunt invited me to call in and record a bit for the Monster Cereals episode of the A Taste of General Mills Podcast, and in this 2012 article I first mentioned publicly that I'd been sitting on a treatment for a General Mills Monsters movie - one that could easily be adapted into a binge-worthy television series.
As Walt Disney Animation Studios prepares to open Ralph Breaks the Internet in theaters around the world, one of the most anticipated moments is one that's been buzzed-about for months - "the Princess scene." Officially the "Oh My Disney" segment, I happened to have seen some of it months before the majority of the public as I was in attendance at the D23 Expo in Anaheim last year. If to "break the internet" really "is a thing," those packed into the famed Hall D23 saw it happen in person as all the living Disney Princesses gathered in one room and took to the stage following the first-ever look at the unfinished Princess scene (at the time a mix of finished animation and hand-drawn animatics filling the gaps). Auli‘i Cravalho (“Moana”), Kristen Bell (Anna in “Frozen”), Kelly MacDonald (Merida in “Brave”), Mandy Moore (Rapunzel in “Tangled”), Anika Noni Rose (Tiana in “The Princess and the Frog”), Irene Bedard (“Pocahontas”), Linda Larkin (Jasmine in “Aladdin”), Paige O’Hara (Belle in “Beauty and the Beast”) and Jodi Benson (Ariel in “The Little Mermaid”) were joined by Sarah Silverman (Vanellope von Schweetz in "Wreck-It Ralph") and directors Rich Moore and Phil Johnston to bask in the glory of what they'd just unleashed - the buzziest of buzz clips, but one the general public wouldn't see for months. And somehow C-3PO and R2-D2 where there, too.
Following an inaugural season that brought magic to families from coast-to-coast, HGTV presents Santa HQ again this year! Back for 2018 at The Fashion Outlets of Chicago and a total of 15 Macerich Shopping Centers nationwide, a new tradition continues as an all-new experience aimed at bringing holiday magic to kids and grownups alike with some flourishes that have been upgraded and expanded for the social media age. Santa HQ welcomes families for the traditional photo with Santa (online reservations available, but not required), upping the game with the Elf Academy in which kids can experience the latest in Elf fashion; take an Elfie Selfie; of check out the latest in Elf-Ray Vision - an AR experience in which families can see just what the Elves are up to. Of course, Santa HQ still serves-up an incredible light show with over 10,000 individual lights synchronized to the "Carol of the Bells."
Party City's Toy City concept is something I've been covering for a few months now, and now that the holiday shopping season is truly upon us, it's time to get serious about toys! With over 50 temporary Toy City pop-up store locations now open throughout the U.S., Party City today unveiled its Black Friday ad and 2018 Top Toys List! There's familiar picks (including some from The Rock Father's Holiday Wish Guide™) and some unique ones as well, from Rainbowcorns and robots to Hatchimals, dinosaur slime, Harry Potter, and everything in between. Let's take a look!
A familiar green villain is currently back in theaters, reimagined in Universal and Illumination's animated picture, THE GRINCH. But that's not the only place to see the tale come to life as Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical brings magic to the stage in select cities for 2018. Madison Square Garden's touring production is the big one, featuring Tony-nominated Gavin Lee (SpongeBob Squarepants: The Musical, Mary Poppins) in the lead role as The Grinch. Kicking off at The Chicago Theatre (November 16-25) before heading off to Boston and New York, my family and I were guests at the opening night performance in Chicago as holiday cheer took hold to a sold-out crowd.