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 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.
Chicago's REPENTANCE will make their live debut on May 23 in support of TRIVIUM and TOOTHGRINDER at The Forge in Joliet, Illinois and today we have our first taste of music from the new band. For the past several months, REPENTANCE has been feverishly writing at Chicago’s Superior Street Studios, recently making the move north to Mercenary Digital Studios in Zion, IL to record for the first time with engineer Scott Creekmore (Product of Hate) on the boards. "Collide" is the first single from REPENTANCE, mixed and mastered by Chris Collier (Prong). Crank it up below, and stay tuned for more!
It's been said that "life finds a way," and in 2019 it's going to be evolving... at least in terms of Universal Studios Hollywood and their famed Jurassic Park - The Ride. Announced today, the all-new Jurassic World Ride will be coming to the park next year, drawing from favorite elements of the original ride, but in a next-generation form - a thrill ride that will be "a fully reimagined iteration of the ground-breaking adventure, elevating every facet of the experience. With the introduction of never-before-seen dinosaurs, enhanced storytelling, lush scenic design, an entirely new color scheme and uncompromised state-of the art technology, the ride will capture elements never experienced within a theme park." Now, the "Countdown to Extinction" has begun as guests from around the world are invited to experience the ride before its transformation. Jurassic Park - The Ride will have its finale on September 3, 2018. Check out a teaser below!
Nostalgia is a serious thing right now, and when it's done right, the way to move forward into the future is by providing a link to the past. From 20th Century Fox, the PREDATOR franchise is being rebooted, and in this first trailer audiences are getting a look at a very different movie than the ones that have preceded it. THE PREDATOR finds a suburban boy unknowingly luring the intergalactic hunters back to earth in a scene that takes me right back to a simpler time - a realm of imagination and wonder much like that seen in films like the Goonies or Monster Squad. The latter was a 1987 collaboration between Shane Black and Fred Dekker, and for THE PREDATOR they're working together again, co-writing the screenplay and with Black (Lethal Weapon) at the helm. Take a look...
Earlier today, Spin Master's official Etch A Sketch Instagram did a repost of an incredible creation from Willie Witte aka M.C. Etcher aka happy.little.etch. It's a quickly-iconic shot from Childish Gambino's "This Is America" music video - a clip directed by Atlanta helmer Hiro Murai that's racked-up nearly 60 million plays in just under four days. The incredibly multilayered video (see it here) has been a subject of intense discussion and dissection that began immediately following the performance of the song by Gambino (Donald Glover) on Saturday Night Live this past weekend. See the Etch A Sketch creation below, and be sure to swipe left on the Instagram embed to see video of it's making in progress.
Automoblox have been around for nearly 15 years (the original idea goes back to the early 90s), but it wasn't until PlayMonster picked them up a couple of years back that they really started picking up steam. Touted as "A Real Car Brand For Kids," these rides are a modern reinvention of the classic wooden car - but with some stellar upgrades and construction that's built to last. The precision design of each vehicle is broken into sections that become mix-and-match pieces (with hidden connectors), allowing kids to enjoy them right out of the box - or to use their imagination to create fresh new vehicles. You can swap bodies, wheels, tires, windows and more, and the vehicles have some real weight to them. While the original Automoblox are fantastic, I think the Mini range is the stand-out element of the whole collection.
As the final wind-down of U.S. operations for Toys "R" Us continues, it should be crystal clear by now that saving the business and its 33,000+ workers was just not a real priority. If it was, the company and its lenders and ownership would've found some way to make it happen, but we knew as early as the beginning of February that Bain Capital was pushing for a full liquidation - and that's exactly what they got. The private equity industry is a scummy bunch, and when it comes to representation, that's even clear in their own lobbying organization, the American Investment Council, which softened its name over the years from the more ominous "Private Equity Growth Capital Council" and "Private Equity Council" to become the AIC. While these groups have powerful representation, it's the American worker that gets caught in the crossfire during leveraged buyouts and their eventual collapse, and in retail this is a group who is typically under-represented (I do not believe that Unions are the answer, but that's a lengthier story for another time). Retail workers - both hourly and salaried management included - are generally underpaid and lack any long-term benefits. In a situation like what's happened with Toys "R" Us, you have the people who've been doing the real work - the ones out there on the front lines - facing unemployment with no severance as they have to deal with the general public and the sad position of closing up shop. Meanwhile, you have Chairman, CEO and LinkedIn Enthusiast David A. Brandon still kicking around the increasingly ghostly halls of Toys "R" Us HQ in Wayne, NJ, having to ride things out until the very end as part of the terms of the $2.8M retention bonus he took in September of 2017, just days prior to the company filing bankruptcy. Today, a group of Toys "R" Us employees met with Senator Bernie Sanders in Washington D.C., later marching alongside representatives from The Center for Popular Democracy and Rise Up Retail as they took to the AIC in protest of private equity destruction at the hands of Bain Captial, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts and Vornado Realty Trust. Watch the video below...