Wednesday, April 13 2016 07:35

On the Set of Disney XD's WALK THE PRANK

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In all the years that I've been visiting Los Angeles, either as a creative, or as a writer covering the works of others, one studio I had never had a chance to visit until recently was Paramount Pictures. Funny enough, it wasn't even an actual Paramount production that drew me to the lot this past month, but a Disney one. On a Tuesday morning, I and a group of 24 fellow writers entered the lot and headed for the famed Stage 19 to check out some taping on Disney XD's new series, WALK THE PRANK (airing Wednesday nights at 8:30 p.m. EDT). According to some, Stage 19 at Paramount is haunted, and that just may lend itself to some pranktastic goodness in the future, but for now we were eager to check out something new being shot on a stage that once played host to iconic productions including HAPPY DAYS, and Orson Welles' masterpiece, CITIZEN KANE.

Pretty much every generation has had their own hidden-camera prank show, from CANDID CAMERA for the Baby Boomers, to PUNK'D for me. WALK THE PRANK is a different spin on things, providing audiences with a scripted series that incorporated 100% real pranks, each played on a series of unsuspecting marks. The scripts feed the pranks, but the real-life reactions from the pranks also informs the script. It's an interesting, very cyclical thing.

At #DisneyXD - one of my favorites of the Disney endeavors. #WalkThePrank

A photo posted by James Zahn (@therockfather) on

Prior to heading over to the Paramount lot, we started our day by viewing footage over at the Disney XD offices to really get a feel for what the show is all about. It's fun, and there's definitely the type of mischief that I could see our oldest daughter (she'll be 7 this year) getting into. Personally, I liked bits involving a ghost bear and a crazed dog. 

Just arrived at the @paramountpics lot. #WalkThePrank

A photo posted by James Zahn (@therockfather) on

Stopping by the set, we saw some of the scripted bits for episode 14 being shot, with Cody Veith ("Nicky, Ricky, Dicky & Dawn") as the cool, confident Chance, Bryce Gheisar ("A Dog's Purpose") as Chance's younger brother Herman, Jillian Shea Spaeder ("Theatre and Me's the Bully") as the tech-savvy Bailey, and Brandon Severs ("The Neighbors") as Chance's best friend Dusty. In the mix is one grown-up, Tobie Windham ("The Wesley's") as Will, Dusty's uncle, and meeting him for a brief Q&A was cool - and led to a first. Tobie asked if he'd seen me on television before, and it's quite possible that he had, likely from a commercial a few years back.

After chatting with the group about some of the nuts & bolts of the show (more on that in a future feature), we took a look around the set - something I always really enjoy when I get to do a visit. Uncle Will has a joke shop/magic shop, and it's a fairly elaborate creation - a full 360° set filled with all sorts of interesting things. It's the type of place I would've gone as a tween/teen, and in fact, I did visit some very similar real-life locales back in the day... like when I wanted to get the "trick" that made it look like I could shoot fire from my hand in a "poof!"

On the Set of Disney XD's WALK THE PRANK

WALK THE PRANK is created and executive produced by Adam Small (“Mad TV”) and Trevor Moore (“Whitest Kids U Know.”). Check it out Wednesday nights at 8:30 p.m. EDT on Disney XD.

James Zahn

James Zahn is best-known as The Rock Father™, a media personality, commentator, adventurer and raconteur. In January, 2019, after nearly a decade as Publisher of The Rock Father Magazine, he joined Adventure Publishing Group as Senior Editor of The Toy Book—the leading trade publication for the toy industry since 1984, as well as The Pop Insider—a destination for all things pop culture. He is also editor of The Toy Report, a weekly newsletter published by The Toy Book each Thursday. Zahn has over 25 years of experience in the entertainment, retail and publishing industries.

He 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. A new album has been completed and is set for release this year.

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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