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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 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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Connect with James on Facebook or Twitter.

The recent ABC reboot of Roseanne has been a smash-hit, but like the woman in the title, it's also been controversial at times. Today it's over. Following a racist, since-deleted tweet in which Roseanne Barr compared Valerie Jarrett, a former adviser to President Barack Obama, to the offspring of the "Muslim Brotherhood and Planet of the Apes," ABC pulled the plug on the show. In an email sent out to media this morning, Channing Dungey, President of ABC Entertainment said: "Roseanne's Twitter statement is abhorrent, repugnant and inconsistent with our values, and we have decided to cancel her show."

The Gods must be crazy... I was browsing Spotify out on my deck this past Friday afternoon, taking a scroll through all the new releases when I stopped on Weezer - "Rosanna." My friend Shaun turned to me and asked, "Weezer covered Toto?" Within a few seconds, our kids' playdate was soundtracked by the smooth sounds of Rivers Cuomo and the crew covering the lead single from Toto's 1982 album, Toto IV. Entertaining, yes - but not exactly the Toto cover that Weezer fans had been asking for. Well, all was made right this morning with the release of "Africa." Listen to both below...

Houston-raised, LA-based rock/rapper HYRO THE HERO first hit my radar nearly a decade ago. I distinctly recall covering his 2011 debut album "Birth, School, Work, Death" for another site (shuttered around the same time), but seven years later Hyro is back! Set for release on June 29, 2018 via RED Music / SONY, Flagged Channel puts HYRO THE HERO back in the spotlight with his crushing blend of hip-hop and rock. Check out the new music video for the lead single, "Bullet" and crank it up!

Unless I happen to be in Los Angeles for a premiere, I tend to skip the advance screenings of upcoming films. In large part it's due to being 50 miles outside of Chicago proper, which makes attending the advances logistically difficult - but there are exceptions. Star Wars is the one franchise that I consciously avoid attending press screenings for, even though it's the series that most would expect that I'd absolutely want to see early. The reason for that is that the Star Wars films are something special for our family, and for the modern films that Lucasfilm has been releasing under Disney ownership, the tradition is that my wife and I see them at the Thursday night "preview" showings, and then take our daughters to see them over the weekend.  My personal connection to Star Wars runs deep, and I was there working with Disney to promote the launch of J.J. Abrams' Star Wars: The Force Awakens in 2015, on the ground at the Global Media Event to play a small part in ushering in a new era of Star Wars - a return to the saga that many felt would never happen. Now, with the release of Solo: A Star Wars Story, I think we've reached a point where all generations should be enjoying these films more than ever before... if they'd just let themselves have some fun.

Over the past several years, Twitter Parties, sometimes known as Twitter Chats, have been a fantastic way for brands and publishers to connect in real-time with consumers. As THE ROCK FATHER™, I have been serving as a host, co-host and panelist for Twitter Parties since 2012, and in that time I've had the honor of working with dozens of clients in building real relationships with thousands of current and potential customers - mostly parents. While Twitter Parties might not be as buzzworthy as they once were, in 2018 they're still a way to score millions of impressions and to get your message (potentially trending!) in front of a huge audience.

When done right, Twitter Parties are beneficial to both the sponsor and the participants by creating a fun and lively discussion that not only educates and informs, but most importantly, entertains.

Using a pre-determined #hashtag, a Twitter Party can be used to launch a new product, support a film or television series, get people excited about a specific location or event - the possibilities are limitless! Twitter Parties are generally coordinated by a host on behalf of a sponsor with a panel of 5-10 paid co-hosts. Together, we rally our collective audiences by promoting the coming party with pre-party articles, blogs and social posts. 

Participants will be asked to answer specific questions to win sponsor-provided prizes, all while helping to expose the brand messaging to their friends and followers as well. Winners will be chosen at random throughout the party, and the questions and brand messaging will be agreed-upon in advance with a script approved by the presenting sponsor.

The scale and scope of every party is unique based upon client needs. There is no "one-size-fits-all" approach, and I can help you put it all together as a formal host - or join an existing party as a co-host or panelist. Please contact me via email - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. - to discuss how we can work together!

THE ROCK FATHER™ has taken part in Twitter Parties covering a variety of categories including, but not limited to: toys, games, movies, television series, consumer products, tech, health & wellness, food & drink, retailers, automakers, and more. Select clients have included:

The Walt Disney Company, DreamWorks, 20th Century Fox, Life of Dad, The Toy Insider, Lionsgate, Marvel Studios, Hasbro, Mattel, JAKKS Pacific, Just Play Toys, GameStop, Sunny Days Entertainment, Jazwares, eOne, Best Buy, Walmart, Crayola, General Mills, Pampers, Huggies, Pop Secret, Stanley Tools, Beautyrest, Circle with Disney, DynaTrap, Metamucil, KD Interactive, Maisto, Vtech Toys, Applebees, Starbucks, Folgers, The J.M. Smucker Company, Canon USA, Ellio's Pizza, Pepto-Bismol, Frito-Lay, Snyders of Hanover, American Greetings, Buy Costumes, Music & Arts, Sears, Dove Men + Care and Kia Motors America.

Rube Goldberg Machine ContestIf you've ever seen Back to the Future, played a game of Mouse Trap or watched a recent OK Go video (particularly "This Too Shall Pass"), then you've seen a Rube Goldberg Machine. These creations are elaborate, generally ridiculous machines that are crafted for the purpose of accomplishing a mundane task... like brewing a cup of coffee or feeding your dog. Rube Goldberg has been called "the grandfather of S.T.E.M." due to the enduring legacy of his iconic illustrations. Goldberg was a Pulitzer Prize-winning engineer and cartoonist, and his "invention cartoons" were the blueprint for countless contraptions that now bear his name. In 1988, things became official with the start of the RUBE GOLDBERG MACHINE CONTEST®, originally as a college competition. Three decades later, the annual contest encourages student inventors from across the country to create the best machines that they can, and for the 30th Anniversary, the 2018 contest came to a conclusion in Chicago.

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