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.
Learn more here.
For those that missed it this year due to its "hiatus," Chicago Open Air will be back in 2019 presenting a new event called "A Day in the Park." The event will take place at Toyota Park in Bridgeview, Illinois during the weekend of May 17-19. Danny Wimmer Presents revealed the news in an announcement that I received this morning along with details on their spring 2019 music festivals - including the debut of the new Sonic Temple Art + Music Festival in Ohio and a new "destination" musc fest that will be coming to North Carolina. Stay tuned for more details as I have it...
Disney Junior is on a roll, and today it was announced that the #1 channel for preschoolers is going to keep things moving. Joe D'Ambrosia, senior vice president, Original Programming at Disney Junior revealed that they've ordered more episodes of Vampirina, Muppet Babies and Puppy Dog Pals. Combined, the three seres' already reach an average of 515 million households via all platforms. The new episodes will mark the second season for Muppet Babies, along with season three pick ups for both Puppy Dog Pals and Vampirina.
Can you feel it? Call of Duty Season is almost here, and as the October 12th release of Black Ops 4 approaches, there's a private Beta for the new Blackout mode on the way. Starting Monday, September 10th, players can get their first hands-on experience with Blackout in the Blackout Private Beta, beginning first on PlayStation 4 with Xbox and PC held until later in the week. The Private Beta will provide valuable user feedback and data as Activision and developer Treyarch prepare to release what's been touted as "the deepest, most engaging Call of Duty game ever." Those who participated in the multiplayer beta automatically have access to the Blackout beta. Check out the trailer below and be sure to check back soon - The Rock Father™ will be giving out Beta Codes shortly!
Back in February, I had the opportunity to get a first-hand look at some of Playmates Toys' Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles offerings at the 115th North American International Toy Fair. In a special presentation alongside members of the TMNT cast and crew, we were shown some radically-different takes on some familiar characters - and while the reimagined series had yet to be seen, one thing was certain: the toys were cool! Set for release on October 1, the toys are now available for pre-order via Amazon, Walmart and Target (all affiliates of this site). In addition to the basic action figures, the Turtles' ride has always been a must-have, and at the pinnacle of the collection has been the sewer lair - now presented in an all-new form. The Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Epic Sewer Lair Playset will be the envy of the neighborhood - bigger, sturdier, and packed with more features than ever!
"Generations of children around the world have grown up with deep emotional connections to Mattel's brands and characters. There are so many stories to be told and so many imaginations to be captured by these iconic brands..." -- Robbie Brenner, Executive Producer, Mattel Films
There's a lot to be said about controlling your own properties and guiding their destiny. Marvel has done it... Hasbro has done it... now Mattel wants to do it. After years of bouncing projects around between various stages of development at numerous studios, Mattel has announced the creation of Mattel Films, a new division of the Company focused on developing and producing motion pictures based on the Company's iconic and globally-recognized franchises. Academy Award-nominated producer Robbie Brenner has been appointed to lead Mattel Films as Executive Producer, reporting to Ynon Kreiz, Mattel's Chairman and CEO.
The business of play is a fascinating subject, with the real-life stories behind some of our favorite toys sometimes rivaling the fictional worlds that they spawned. The Netflix Original Series The Toys That Made Us feeds that interest, and for those awaiting more episodes (season 3 is being filmed right now) there's a new documentary that's an absolute must-watch. Power of Grayskull: The Definitive History of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe is now streaming on Netflix, and as the title implies - it's an in-depth look at Mattel's iconic franchise from its origins in the early 80s through nearly four decades of highs and lows. Check out the trailer below...