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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 Avengers: Infinity War Special Feature is presented in collaboration between The Rock Father™ and Marvel Studios. This article contains spoilers...

The release of Marvel Studios' Avengers: Infinity War invoked a lot of reaction from fans and critics alike. While the film was met with near-universal acclaim and a box office take that would make Thanos smile (over $2B worldwide), the emotional response elicited by the events of the film's final act left many feeling... things. Anger, sadness - downright shock... the first ten years of the Marvel Cinematic Universe had all been leading to this, the uncertain fate of some of Earth's mightiest heroes. So how is that fan reaction taken in by those behind-the-scenes? In celebration of Avengers: Infinity War's in-home release, I had a chance to find out - catching up with Executive Producer Trinh Tran at the all-new Marvel Superheroes 4-D attraction at Madame Tussauds Hollywood.

With 2018 being such a massive year at the movies, it's easy to overlook some potential gems in what's become a crowded summer. As of this writing, family-friendly superheroes still rank heavily in the Top 10, with Marvel Studios' Ant-Man and The Wasp, Disney-Pixar's Incredibles 2 and Warner Bros. Animation's Teen Titans GO! to the Movies jockeying for position in a crowded field currently dominated by Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible: Fallout, Disney's Christopher Robin (reviewed here) and sequels from the Hotel Transylvania and Mamma Mia! franchises (did ABBA spawn a franchise? I guess I just said it). Call it "counter-programming," but there's something charming about a little movie about the ways that canine companions can help bring people together arriving in theaters just two days ahead of a film about a prehistoric, everything-eating shark (THE MEG). From LD EntertainmentDOG DAYS is a late-summer surprise that's worthy of a look - a family film with crossover appeal that's driven by the strength of its ensemble cast... a cast that doesn't spend a lot of time on-screen with one another.

When I last met up with actress Hayley Atwell, it was December of 2015. I was Los Angeles for the Global Media Event for the theatrical launch of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, but in the midst of things my group made a detour. After rolling onto the Universal Studios lot on Burbank, California, we soon found ourselves at the Los Angeles Office for the Strategic Scientific Reserve (SSR). An incredible, 360° set located just a quick walk from where The Voice was taping, the 1940's-era West Coast home base for the precursor to S.H.I.E.L.D. was a sight to behold, and sadly, the work that went into creating it was seen in just one season of Marvel's Agent Carter. Just a few months later, that series would come to an end, but like many actors that find themselves welcomed into the Disney family, Atwell would soon find herself embarking on another adventure... this time into The Hundred Acre Wood. With Disney's Christopher Robin (reviewed here) now playing in theaters everywhere, Hayley sat down with a crew of the usual suspects (myself included) to talk about her role as Evelyn Robin in the film that would see Winnie the Pooh and friends brought to the big screen in live-action for the very first time.

Even if you don't know Jim Cummings, you certainly know his voice. For the past 30 years, he's been the man behind the familiar sound of the most famous resident of The Hundred Acre Wood, Winnie the Pooh. Taking over for Hal Smith in keeping Sterling Holloway's famous rasp alive, Cummings has become familiar to generations. "I’ve jokingly said, you know, a ‘Winnie the Pooh' generation is every three and a half years because that brings a brand new set of Pooh fans," he says with a smile, taking some time to sit down with a group (including yours truly) during the launch of Disney's Christopher Robin (reviewed here) in Los Angeles. For the Marc Forster-directed take on a grown-up boy who's lost his way, Cummings inhabits the "live-action" (via CGI) Pooh, along with Tigger (who he took over formally in 2005). During the course of our interview, Jim bounced seamlessly between his own voice and that of his characters...

As we enter August, I've now been writing about the collapse of Toys "R" Us (TRU) for 11 months - hard to imagine that last year at this time, the dominoes were just on the verge of tipping, as positive announcements like the launch of Spin Master's Rusty Rivets toys and the pending Force Friday II ahead of Star Wars: The Last Jedi were still taking place. Of course, by September things were looking bleak, and my "Toy Killer" feature about Bain Capital setting-up TRU to fail and fall - just as they did with KB Toys - was published just 12 days ahead of their filing for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Protection. The eventual motion for complete liquidation just six months later would be a surprise to many, but the fact that the process of shutting down the company and selling off its assets keeps getting drawn-out is one that continues to surprise and pour salt in the wounds of many. I still hold firm in my belief that certain parties at the top never had any real intention of allowing Toys "R" Us and Babies "R" Us to continue here in the United States, and now it appears as though by the time it's all said and done, even the names my hold little value. Once again, the Intellectual Property Auction that would allow buyers to purchase the IP assets of the company has been postponed - this time until October. For those playing along at home, the initial plans for the auction were outlined back in May with the original plan set for a June 18 action... postponed until August 6, and now delayed once again. With each passing day, the TRU brand loses more and more of its value, but life without Toys "R" Us isn't necessarily as bleak as some may have thought. In fact, the NPD Group reports that toy industry sales are up more than 7% so far in 2018 with double-digit increases in the sales of youth electronics and dolls. Still, the saga of Toys "R" Us continues, and as I said during my panel appearance at San Diego Comic-Con, it's like an L.O.L. Surprise Doll in that there's just more and more to discover as each layer is peeled back...

August is the month that famously ushers in "the dog days of summer," so what better time to release the new ensemble comedy, DOG DAYS? From Actor/Director Ken Marino (How to Be a Latin Lover, MTV's The State) comes a hilarious and heartfelt ensemble comedy that follows the lives of multiple dog owners and their beloved fluffy pals.  When these human and canine’s paths start to intertwine, their lives begin changing in ways they never expected. In theaters on Wednesday, August 8 (look for my formal review soon), it's a surprisingly cute movie with a fantastic cast and a ton of heart! Now, to celebrate DOG DAYS release (get tickets via my affiliate, Fandango), The Rock Father™ and LD Entertainment have teamed-up to help you pamper your pup (or pups!) with a $50 Petco Gift Card!

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