Thursday, June 16 2016 16:17

Goin' Back to Cali: The Giant, The Queen and The Worm...

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Over the past few years, I've had the good fortune to count The Walt Disney Studios among the best friends of myself and the site, a relationship that has thrown open the gates to the "Magical World of Disney" to a big kid from Illinois who grew up loving Mickey Mouse and friends. With each group of new films and projects from the Disney family (Studios/Animation/ABC/Disney Channel/etc), teams of 25 writers/bloggers are welcomed to Los Angeles to get an inside look - and sometimes take part in events that go above and beyond what I would've ever expected. I'm thrilled to officially announce that this week I'm returning to Los Angeles as a guest of Disney to attend the red carpet premiere of The BFG - the new film from Director Steven Spielberg! While there, I'll have a chance to meet with much of the cast and crew, screen the film (twice - once before the premiere), and will be getting a look at the upcoming film QUEEN OF KATWE and Disney XD's FUTURE WORM in what is one of the most tightly-packed three day itineraries that I've ever taken part in. As always, YOU can follow along and interact with our crew LIVE on social media, tweeting/facebooking questions and comments. Check out all the details on #TheBFGEvent below!

On Monday, June 20th, we'll fly to Los Angeles, arriving in-time for a private screening of The BFG at one of my favorite places on the planet - The Walt Disney Studios lot.

On Tuesday, June 21, we'll start the day off with short interviews with cast from The BFG including Ruby Barnhill (“Sophie”), Jemaine Clement (“Fleshlumpeater”), Penelope Wilton (“The Queen”), Rebecca Hall ("Mary") and recent Academy Award winner Mark Rylance (“The BFG”). The best part for this CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND-watching, E.T.-loving, INDIANA JONES-admiring kid whose wife notes JAWS as her all-time favorite movie? Our first meeting of the day is with Director Steven Spielberg!

Queen of KatweFrom there we're off to lunch at ABC, followed by a screening of QUEEN OF KATWE, which is being released this September. Starring Academy Award-winner and recent Tony Award-nominee Lupita Nyong'o, who I've interviewed twice in just the past seven months - first for STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS (in which she plays Maz Kanata) and again for THE JUNGLE BOOK (in which she voiced Raksha) - is the colorful true story of a young girl selling corn on the streets of rural Uganda whose world rapidly changes when she is introduced to the game of chess, and, as a result of the support she receives from her family and community, is instilled with the confidence and determination she needs to pursue her dream of becoming an international chess champion. David Oyelowo (SELMA) and newcomer Madina Nalwanga also star.

That night comes the main event, where we'll be walking the red carpet in front of the famed El Capitan Theatre for The BFG. Helmed by Spielberg from a screenplay by the late Melissa Mathison (who wrote E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial) based on the book by Roald Dahl, and featuring music by the legendary John Williams, The BFG tells the imaginative story of a young girl and the Giant who introduces her to the wonders and perils of Giant Country. The BFG (Mark Rylance), while a giant himself, is a Big Friendly Giant and nothing like the other inhabitants of Giant Country. Standing 24-feet tall with enormous ears and a keen sense of smell, he is endearingly dim-witted and keeps to himself for the most part. Giants like Bloodbottler (Bill Hader) and Fleshlumpeater (Jemaine Clement) on the other hand, are twice as big and at least twice as scary and have been known to eat humans, while the BFG prefers Snozzcumber and Frobscottle. Upon her arrival in Giant Country, Sophie, a precocious 10-year-old girl from London, is initially frightened of the mysterious giant who has brought her to his cave, but soon comes to realize that the BFG is actually quite gentle and charming, and, having never met a giant before, has many questions. The BFG brings Sophie to Dream Country where he collects dreams and sends them to children, teaching her all about the magic and mystery of dreams. Having both been on their own in the world up until now, their affection for one another quickly grows, but Sophie’s presence in Giant Country has attracted the unwanted attention of the other giants, who have become increasingly more bothersome. Sophie and the BFG soon depart for London to see the Queen (Penelope Wilton) and warn her of the precarious giant situation, but they must first convince the Queen and her maid, Mary (Rebecca Hall), that giants do indeed exist. Together, they come up with a plan to get rid of the giants once and for all. 


On Wednesday, June 22, it's over to Disney Animation's temporary facility to screen FUTURE WORM!, an offbeat comedy adventure that follows Danny, an optimistic 12-year-old who creates a time machine lunch box and befriends Future Worm, a fearless worm from the future with titanium-enforced abs. We'll have breakfast with creator/executive producer Ryan Quincy (SOUTH PARK). The series premieres this summer on Disney XD.

Finally, it's back to The Walt Disney Studios for some top-secret Rock Father business, and then back to LAX to head home to Chicago!

Please follow the adventures of our group with hashtags #TheBFGEvent, #QueenOfKatwe and #FutureWormEvent on all of your favorite social networks. Have questions about these projects or for any of the folks involved? Let me know!

James Zahn

James Zahn is best-known as The Rock Father™, a media personality, commentator, adventurer and raconteur. He is the Owner, Publisher, and Editor-in-Chief of THE ROCK FATHER™ Magazine. In January, 2019, after nearly a decade of publishing The Rock Father™ Magazine, he joined Adventure Media and Events 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, and The Toy Insider — the leading consumer guide for toys and games. He is also editor of The Toy Report, a weekly newsletter published by The Toy Book each Thursday. Zahn has over 27 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.

Zahn and/or his work have been featured in/on CNN, NBC, ABC, WGN, CBS, GCTN, G4, The Chicago Tribune, Forbes, MarketWatch, Reuters, BusinessWire, 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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