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Not long ago, on the Walt Disney Studios lot in Burbank, I had a chance to take a look at a nice chunk of footage from Walt Disney Animation Studios' 57th feature, Ralph Breaks the Internet. Given the long development and production time required for an animated feature on this scale, the follow-up to 2012's Wreck-It Ralph is an unusually timely story that arrives just as retro gaming is reaching its peak as we enter a holiday season where some of this year's must-have gifts are firmly-rooted in a simpler time with an arcade past. Just as real-life gamers are longing to go back in time, Wreck-It Ralph (John C. Reilly) and Vanellope von Schweetz (Sarah Silverman) are headed for the future... but the future is now. From Litwak's Arcade to the internet, the creative team behind the film had a huge task ahead of them in order to build and populate a digital world that could have believably been expanding for decades.

Published in Movies, TV and More

It was nearly three years ago that I'd first met up with Director Rich Moore and Producer Clark Spencer on the Walt Disney Studios lot in Burbank, California. It was then, on a detour from working the Global Media Event for Star Wars: The Force Awakens that I had a chance to join them (along with Director Byron Howard) to take an early look at what was shaping up to be the 55th feature film from Walt Disney Animation Studios - Zootopia. Fast-forward to July 2018 and I was back in a screening room on the Disney lot, but this time it was with Moore, Spencer and Director/Writer Phil Johnston for a sneak-preview of work-in-progress footage from the 57th Disney Animation feature, Ralph Breaks the Internet. Set for release on November 21, 2018, the crew was working feverishly as they entered the home stretch and as always, the collaborative efforts of team was showing as they continue to shape these films until they finally have to escape.

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GIN BLOSSOMS, one of the top alt-rock groups of the '90s who celebrated the 25th anniversary of their multi-platinum album New Miserable Experience last year, recently issued their first new album in eight years, MIXED REALITY (produced by Don Dixon). They continue to tour and are as committed to the road as ever (see below for upcoming tour dates). We recently caught up with them and asked how the band maintains their sanity as they log more miles and check in and out of hotels.

Published in Music News

Kids should be allowed to be kids and enjoy the freedom of unstructured imaginative play. That's a message that I've spoken of often, and it's one that's placed firmly at the heart of Disney's Christopher Robin. In that film, Christopher (Ewan McGregor) has grown up, and as a father himself, he's forgotten about the importance and magic of play. For his daughter, Madeline (Bronte Carmichael), childhood is headed in a bleaker direction until some familiar characters from The Hundred Acre Wood arrive, reminding Christopher of what once was and what still could be. In Los Angeles last week, I had a chance to meet with the 11-year-old actress inhabiting the role of Madeline to discuss the experience of joining Winnie the Pooh and friends for their first live-action adventure. Already a professional actor with a bright career ahead of her, how does Bronte play?

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On this week's episode of the Power Kid Podcast, the featured guest is a familiar one... me. Each week, toy industry veteran Phil Albritton interviews amazing people making amazing things for kids. Toys, games, books, media - he covers it all in the only podcast dedicated to the modern children's entertainment industry. Phil and I had connected over on LinkedIn, and one big question he had was how my career trajectory took me from covering horror movies and entertainment for FANGORIA to penning columns for Sprout Channel's late Sprout Parents site. On the show I explain how all that happened, and discuss a bit of my backstory, from working in retail 20 years ago to entering the world of film & tv to winding up here, covering toys and pop culture for the likes of The Toy Insider, Toy Book and The Pop Insider. We also discuss my deep-dive into the collapse of Toys "R" Us, and close things out with some words about raising kids and parenting in the "gig economy" - where success today is still staring-down an uncertain tomorrow. Check it out on Stitcher, iTunes or in the player below!

Published in James' Journal

This Black Panther Special Feature is presented in collaboration between The Rock Father™, Marvel Studios and The Walt Disney Company

The impact of Marvel Studios' Black Panther will be felt for quite some time. A phenomenon of cultural importance as well as entertainment, the #3 movie of all-time is the story of T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman), a young African prince who takes on the mantle of King and Super Hero. Now, after thrilling and inspiring  generations of moviegoers on the big screen, Black Panther is available to enjoy at home on Digital HD, 4K Ultra HD™, Blu-ray™, DVD and On-Demand. Ahead of its in-home release, I caught up with Executive Producer Nate Moore (pictured top left) for a look at some of the film's extensive bonus features, as well as some insight into the production of Black Panther, the success of the film and where the story could go next!

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