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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 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.

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This November, Magnolia Pictures will bring to theaters a story that's a familiar one for thousands of families across America, but a tale largely unknown or ignored by much of the general public. When the trailer for The Last Race first hit my inbox, I immediately thought of a place that I've mentioned a few times in the virtual pages of The Rock Father™ Magazine in years past... the late Santa Fe Speedway in Willow Springs, Illinois. If you've ever been around short track auto racing, it's a familiar situation - racing thrives, but as development closes in on the race track, eventually the owners get squeezed out in favor of strip malls and upscale housing, often headed-up by litigious individuals and organizations that seek to eliminate the "inconvenience" of what was there before them. In the case of The Last Race, the subject is Riverhead Raceway, the last remaining auto track in Metro New York - one now surrounded, where racing takes place in the shadows of a Dick's Sporting Goods and a lumber yard. Check out the trailer below for what looks to be one of this fall's must-see documentary films.

For parents with kids of school age, the name "Pete the Cat" should be a familiar one - a character created by author/illustrator James Dean, and the star of over 40 popular children’s books seen at Scholastic School Book Fairs and regularly requested by little ones. Now, Pete the Cat is starring in his first-ever musically-driven animated series, streaming now on Amazon Prime Video. Starring Jacob Tremblay, Elvis Costello, and Diana Krall, the series also features original music from Costello and Krall as they tell stories about exploring your world and trying new things, while being smart, accepting, and optimistic. To celebrate the launch, The Rock Father™ and Prime Video have teamed-up to give you a shot at winning a cool Pete the Cat Prize Pack from Scholastic that your kids are gonna love!

This Rock Father™ Rides Special Feature is presented in collaboration with Chevrolet, the Official Vehicle of Major League Baseball...

Every team wants to play October baseball. Thing is, if you want to hit the field during the month of pumpkins and hayrides, September baseball is where it's at - a month that can absolutely make or break a season. As the final stretch of the five-month regular season, it's entirely possible for strong teams to collapse while traditionally bad teams can score a spot in the playoffs... weird stuff happens, and rivalries often come into play. Living in Northern Illinois, we're surrounded by rival factions. Of course, the Chicago Cubs reign supreme, but we're almost the exact distance from Wrigley Field as we are from Milwaukee's Miller Park, and now we have a year where the Cubs and Brewers are fighting for the top spot in the National League Central Division (spoiler alert: Cubs will come out on top). That means we regularly hear about a Milwaukee/Chicago rivalry, but we seldom actually see it. Why? Go to a Brewers game and experience it... Cubs fans outnumber the hometown crowd about 5-1 (some say 2-1, but it's more). In fact, Miller Park has the unwelcome nickname of "Wrigley Field North" when the Cubs are in town, but the ball club takes full advantage of that fact, jacking rates on parking and the like to take advantage of their neighbors to the south (can't say I blame them). With September baseball getting good, my wife and I recently had a "grownups night out" with a couple of friends, hitting the road to experience Wrigley North for ourselves.

While it hasn't "officially" been deemed a "reboot," the new trailer for Paramount Pictures' Bumblebee certainly looks to be a fresh start for the cinematic Transformers franchise. If it's not a reboot, it adds to a multitude of continuity errors and conflicting mythology that spawned from the five films under Michael Bay's direction... but if it is a reboot, it's got a solid chance to set up a new franchise that connects generations of fans by finally giving them what they've been asking for: G1 (Generation One) Transformers that actually look like the Hasbro toys and cartoons that audiences first fell in love with nearly 35 years ago. From director Travis Knight (Kubo and the Two Strings), check out the new trailer for Bumblebee below!

When it comes to hot holiday toy lists, you'd be hard-pressed to find one better than the one assembled by my friends at The Toy Insider in New York. Their annual Holiday Gift Guide helps gift-givers shop for kids by age, and as always there's the three big signature lists: The Toy Insider's Hot 20, Top Tech 12 and STEM 10. This year's guide will appear in print, included with the November issue of Family Circle magazine (on stands 10/9), and will feature more than 200 toys from more than 100 different manufacturers. An additional 170 toys can be found in the online version of the guide, representing nearly 200 toy companies in total. Check out the video below and a quick overview on some featured items below, then visit The Toy Insider for more great gift ideas!

Mickey Mouse is timeless, and as the iconic mouse prepares to celebrate his 90th birthday this November, a fantastic array of new products and collectibles keep rolling out. Funko has been rolling out a ton of items created in collaboration with the team at Disney Consumer Products, and one of the latest reveals is an exclusive with my friends at GameStop (affiliate). The Gamer Mickey Funko Pop! Vinyl Figure will hit stores on October 13th, presenting the main mouse in a familiar form for anyone who's ever spent some time playing console games online. With his backward baseball cap, gaming headset and controller in-hand, he's ready to rock! So what would Mickey be playing... Kingdom Hearts, perhaps?

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