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.
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!
Going into the World Premiere of Disney's Christopher Robin on The Walt Disney Studios lot in Burbank Monday night, I was in the unique position that I'd actually already done something that much of the cast and crew had not - I'd seen the film in a private screening with my group the night before. Now, writing this review a day prior to its theatrical release, I'm eager to see it again with my family - a prospect that I was already looking forward to before seeing it, and am even more excited about having seen it twice already. Christopher Robin isn't necessarily the film that you might think that it is. Indeed, young Christopher isn't really that young anymore, and yes - the residents of The Hundred Acre Wood do set out to help him (as seen in the trailers), but that's not the point. Christopher Robin is a film about family - specifically about being present and aware of all that is good around us. As I tweeted upon exiting the theater, Christopher Robin is a film that will make you rethink your life, and it's also about something that's very dear to me... the importance of play.
When I began writing about the collapse of Toys "R" Us last summer, I had no idea just how deep the rabbit hole would go. In fact, I had no intention of writing much beyond my initial concern, and even a few months in, I was still sharing some of the public-facing statements issued by the company - that it was "business as usual" during the "restructuring." But it wasn't business as usual, and we all know what ended up happening. It's the summer of 2018, and in the United States, Toys "R" Us and Babies "R" us no longer exist. One of my most widely-shared articles was published back on March 27, and in addition to news that a group of vendors led by Crayola was gearing-up for a fight and alleging "irresponsible and potentially illegal behavior" by certain executives at Toys "R" Us, I raised another concern: that numerous charities would be taking a potentially devastating hit. This week, I received word that ASTRA (American Specialty Toy Retailing Association) and Good360 have stepped-up to face the challenge with the launch of TOYS FOR JOY. Even more surprising was that I was told that it was my writing that inspired the movement.
This interview may contain minor spoilers for Disney's Christopher Robin...
It's a sunny afternoon in Beverly Hills as I enter the Montage, immediately complimented by a member of the house staff for the Marvel t-shirt peeking out from beneath my Red Kap button-down. I take off my sunglasses and head for the staircase, en route to a meeting on the second floor with a man whom I've never met, but one whose work I've been enjoying ever since I rented a copy of Danny Boyle's Shallow Grave on VHS from a Hogan's Video store in Davenport, Iowa back in 1995 or so. Taking a seat at the table for a roundtable interview (I feel compelled to point out that in reality, the table was rectangular), I placed my Funko Pop! Vinyl Winnie the Pooh near the head seat just in time for Ewan McGregor to pull up a chair to discuss his title role in Disney's Christopher Robin.