AMC’s RockyFest Scores a Knockout!

SZoner, JPolli1034, e-mailed to say that AMC‘s recent Rockyfest brought AMC some of the highest ratings that it’s had all season.

Here’s what had to say:

Ratings Box: What’s Hot/What’s Not

-AMC’s RockyFest Scores a Knockout:

AMC’s RockyFest: 5 Titles in 5 Nights from June 28-July 2 lifted the cable network to increases of 42 percent in households (.84 to 1.2), 92 percent in adults 18-49 delivery (380,000 to 728,000), and 80 percent in adults 25-54 delivery (384,000 to 722,000) over the June 2004 time period average. RockyFest, which averaged a 1.2 household rating, is now the second highest rated stunt on AMC this season to-date.

This just proves what we’ve known all along. People still love and, more imortantly, want to see Rocky. The time is right for Rocky VI.

Craig Zablo [July 11, 2004]


Sometimes one word says it all. StalloneArnoldMadonnaShannon.

Shannon? Yep, Shannon is all that need be said to identify another major talent.

I first became aware of Shannon‘s art when I picked up the 20th Anniversary stamp set for the “Rocky” movies. I was impressed by the five stamp series. I would later learn that Sly was also impressed. He even owns a couple of Shannon‘s originals. Sly again worked with Shannon when she was chosen to do the International “Driven” poster.

Shannon has created other successful celebrity stamps including those for James Dean, Elvis, Muhammad Ali, Princess Diana to name just a few.   Shannon was crowned the “Greatest Beatle Artist in the World” and with that the job of creating over 120 murals for the “Hard Days Nights” Hotel. You can check out Shannon‘s art at her website, but you may want to check out StalloneZone‘s exclusive interview first!


Craig: Could you tell us a bit about yourself, how you got your start as an artist and your artistic influences?

Shannon: I have been drawing since the age of 2 (As mom told it). My start took place when I discovered what a pencil was and what it did. Seemed to come as natural as getting up in the morning for me. In the past 10 years, I have taken my craft and worked it to perfection. I acknowledge my talent as a gift and respect it for what it is. To this day, it still baffles my mind as to what I have accomplished.

Unlike my peers, who are influenced by other painters, my influences come from my childhood heroes, such as John Lennon and The BeatlesElvis PresleySylvester StalloneBilly HolidayMuhammad Ali, and Charlie Chaplin. I do greatly respect Norman Rockwell. These are people that beat most of the odds thrown into their path.

Craig: How did you get and prepare for the “Rocky” 20th Anniversary stamp set?

Shannon: I’d just finished the European version, and answer to the US Postage Stamp featuring James Dean, I had created 9 Dean stamps for the project. Although it was my first postage stamp series, it was very successful and earned me some serious clout and leeway on future projects.

So, fortunately I was asked the big question, “What would you like to do on your next project, Shannon? Any ideas?”  The first person to jump into my mind was Sylvester Stallone. He was impactful, handsome, sexual, popular, and I had a small Stallone connection. Having been more a fan of Rambo than Rocky, I clearly had no idea where this would go…if indeed it did go.

So, I called my connection and asked they get in touch with Mr. Stallone (who already knew the quality of my work) and see if he was interested. I was told to wait a couple weeks for the answer.

I put the phone down and went into “anticipation mode”. Within 5 minutes I started to think myself into a nervous frenzy, then the phone rang. I picked it up and the voice said, “OK, he’ll do it. Not of Sylvester, the man…but as Rocky, the character.”

I couldn’t believe it happened so quickly. I was told Sly needed this project to coincide with the 20th Anniversary of Rocky, the movie. Good news: I got the project!

Bad news: I had only six weeks to bang out 5 Rocky illustrations for 5 Stamps. One for each movie.  The anniversary was that near.

Craig: Did you work closely with Sly during the project’s conception and preparatory phases? Did you show Sylvester sketches as the project developed?

Shannon: I was sent a various array of slides and photos of the “Rocky” movies. Honestly, they were all useless. So I jumped in my shiny red Corvette and missioned my way to book stores, libraries, and memorabilia shops. I had no choice, the project had to make it’s deadline.

Lucky for me, the “Rocky” Anniversary 5 pack had just hit the stores. I found what I needed and went to work. First thing to do: Watch every “Rocky” movie, in order, back to back…as if it was one movie.

Sly saw all paintings as they were finished, via Fed Ex. I hadn’t met the man yet, but during a phone conversation with his PR personnel, I heard his voice in the background, explaining only one change he would like taken care of. It was pretty cool.

Craig: Of all the possibilities, what made you decide on one particular image for something as iconic as a Rocky Balboa stamp? Did the man himself have some say in that decision?

Shannon: I tried to look at it this way: I have to create one finished illustration to represent one major movie. Five times! The impact had to be there. And I had but one shot to do it. Again, timing was everything. As the deadline drew nearer, I watched the movies over and over. Then listened to them while I painted. Their influence was phenomenal.

Sly had no real decisions, except for the one, in the project. I believe it was because of the impact of the Anniversary and a full schedule that needed all of his attention. I would also like to believe he trusted my work. I found, in the future, that was the key element…he trusted me.

Craig: Were you nervous when the time came to reveal the finished work to “Rocky”?

Shannon: Not really. I knew they were all good. Plus, it was a major turning point in the evolution of my work. My passion for this job seemed to trigger a whole new me and I was 80% content with the work I was creating. And that is a lot of percentage for me. I am my toughest critic.

Nervousness came the day Sly and I unveiled the “Rocky” stamps at Planet Hollywood in New York City. Keep in mind, I still had not met him. But to someone’s craziness, it was decided it would be magical if we met on TV. I, myself, could think of a better word other then magical. I remember sitting in my seat waiting to be called up. I watched Sly unveil each of my creations one by one. It seemed as if it would take forever and I could swear my heart was jumping out of my chest and hitting the back of the person’s head sitting in front of me. When I was finally called and was walking up to finally meet “the man”, a warm sensation went from my head to my toes and suddenly…I was fine. No nervousness, no shakes and no heart coming out of my chest. I was even able to be a bit “camp” with Sly in front of the cameras. It was a great ending to a grueling 6 weeks.

Craig: What are your thoughts on creating another Balboa stamp, to compliment the possible theatrical release of Rocky‘s 6th and most likely final chapter ?

Shannon: I would love it! I heard, through the Hollywood grapevine, it will indeed be a Broadway play. But a 6th stamp gives it a nice round number. I am ready for the challenge if it does arrive.

Craig: You also painted the poster used for the “Driven” international release and for the Rocky animated “doll” box. How did those come about?

Shannon: I heard Sly was doing this fast paced, on the edge, racing picture. Being involved with racing myself (I raced Motocross for about 5 years in my youth and my Dad built racing cars in his prime), I found this very appetizing. I still have a beautiful 57 Chevy hard top that I built from the ground up. Nitrous, 400 small block with a destroked 350 crank, fuelly heads, high compression pistons, racing cam, etc. Ummm, you get the picture. It’s in the blood, you know?

So I wanted “on” this project in the worst way. Well, I pushed and pushed until I finally got word to Sly that I wanted a shot at the movie poster. As usual, he received word near the end of the project. Sly contacted me and we talked quite a bit. He asked me up to his place and we discussed the possibility of a European poster. It was too late for the U.S. illustration. Sly sent me over to Warner Brothers in Los Angeles, where I live today, to go through the Driven library of photos. Again, as before, most of the photos were already taken and I got the last of the batch. Some were good, but the car shots were bad.

I was “off” to the libraries and book stores once again. Sly was quite involved with this project and I found myself up at his beautiful home countless times. Sly gave me some great, needed photos he had at his home. His wife and family are wonderful people and treated me and my talents with great respect. I was asked for Thanksgiving dinner, at Sly‘s home, a few months later. Word had gotten back to the Stallones I was going to be alone for the holidays. This shows you what wonderful people they really are.

As for as the Rocky Doll art…It is actually the number 5 Stamp on the box. That simple.

Craig: Are there any other Sly Stallone projects that we haven’t mentioned?

Shannon: At present time, I am working on three coffee table books that represent different aspects of my work. They involve one on The Beatles, another on KISS, and the third is a book on my celebrity art which will involve Sylvester more than any other celeb. I will use Sly for the cover and when the time is right, ask him to write the forward.

Craig: What kind of “personal art” do you do for yourself?

Shannon: My personal work has a lot to do with the people I am influenced by.  Being donned “The World’s Greatest Beatles Artist” (in England) has given opportunity for a very nice catalog of Beatles art….which will be in my book. Also, portraits have been painted of Bette DavisSteven Spielberg and ETVan HalenTom CruiseElvis, and Charlie Chaplin, to name just a few. Most recently, I have been involved with painting female erotica….Vargas style. Truly painted much like the old masters, but with today’s twist.

Craig: Where can fans find your work?

Shannon: You can see the wide variety of my work at There’s also a listing of tour dates for the future, which are quite helpful.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has my 10 foot tall Fender Stratocaster Guitar, I created, on display for the next year.

I will also be creating 120 giant murals, which will be part of the structure of The Hard Days Night Hotel, in Liverpool, England. This hotel is the world’s first Beatles themed establishment. One mural for each room. Quite the project!

Craig: Wow! You have quite a few projects lined up. We’ll keep an eye out for them. Thanks for taking the time to talk with us!

“Rocky III” Mentioned

Jazzman sent in the following…

Hey kids,

The current issue of AMERICAN CINEMATOGRAPHER ( Oct 2003 ) has a really nice article entitled …

‘Putting the” Move” in Movie’,

Prominent cinematographers and industry experts consider the aesthetics and psychological implications of camera movement. by John Calhoun.

It features a COOL shot from Rocky III and mentions the following…

‘Garrett Brown’s revolutionary Steadicam was used to great effect on the Rocky films, which offer views of the action that top even the best ringside seat.’

‘ At about the same time, of course, Brown’s steadicam made a revolutionary impact on such films as Rocky and Bound for Glory, the latter of which earned Wexler the 1976 Oscar for Best Cinematography.’


Rocky Statue Up For Bid

Image courtesy and © Schomberg Studios.

Harvey AbramsPresident of the International Institute for Sport and Olympic History sent me the following press release


ROCKY can be yours!

The bronze statue of Rocky Balboa, the boxer made famous in the Sylvester Stallone movies ROCKY III and ROCKY V, is available to any benefactor who is willing to donate at least $5 million ($5,000,000) to a Pennsylvania non-profit corporation by June 18, 2003.

Don’t bother bringing your moving van to Philadelphia, though. The statue that stands in front of the First Union Spectrum isn’t the one available. It’s the other one that’s available. Actually — it’s ROCKY # 3 that’s available.

The monumental bronze statue of ROCKY is world famous and once stood atop the 72 steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The statue was made in 1982 for the Sylvester Stallone movie ROCKY III. After the filming was over, Stallone graciously donated the statue to the City of Philadelphia. What followed was a firestorm of debate.

The Art Museum didn’t want the statue on their steps because they claimed it wasn’t art, but rather just a movie prop. The media and public jumped into the debate. In the end, the statue was moved. The Philadelphia Art Commission, the people responsible for public art in the city, moved the 1,500-pound statue to a new location. Today it stands in front of the First Union Spectrum in South Philadelphia, where other sports art can also be found.

But in State College, Pennsylvania — the hometown of Penn State University — a new organization was seeking sports art from around the world to decorate its planned sports museum. The International Institute for Sport and Olympic History (IISOH) was planning to open a Library and Museum devoted to the History of Sport, Physical Education, Recreation, Dance, Sport in Art and the Olympic Games.
The IISOH, a non-profit educational, literary and research corporation, originally was planning to purchase a 25,000-square-foot building to begin operations in 2005.

But plans changed. Now the group is planning to build a 25,000-square-foot library, 100,000-square-foot museum and a theatre/auditorium, restaurant/cafe, outdoor sculpture gardens, and lots of sports fields and facilities on a campus up to 300 acres in order to enhance its educational mission.

Then along came ROCKY #2 and ROCKY # 3. The president of the IISOHHarvey Abrams, found that the artist had actually made the ROCKY statue in a limited edition of three. So the IISOH signed a contract to buy the remaining statues that have been in storage for 20 years. In fact — they are not even statues — they are still only in the original mold and would be cast in bronze as ROCKY #2/3 and ROCKY #3/3.
The Institute decided that ROCKY # 2 will grace its museum in central Pennsylvania and ROCKY # 3 will be given away as a gift to a major donor. The benefactor has to donate a minimum of $5 million dollars. The IISOHis raising money for the Institute‘s Boxing endowment and Operating Fund. The benefactor is donating money to the non-profit Institute and will eligible for a tax write-off less the actual cost of the statue which will only be revealed after the donation. IRS rules prevail, of course!

The bronze statue is the creation of artist A. Thomas Schomberg, whose monumental bronzes grace museums and estates worldwide. Schomberg created ROCKY in 1982 for Sylvester Stallone and the movie ROCKY III. The statue has been used in other films such as MANNIQUIN (Andrew McCarthy) and PHILADELPHIA (Tom Hanks) as a backdrop. It was used again in ROCKY V and for that film the statue was moved to the Art Museum for filming, then returned to the Spectrum permanently.

Why does the benefactor have until June 18? Well — according to Abrams — a donation of $5 million creates the Boxing Endowment and will also allow the Institute to make the land acquisition and start the design process with architects. Hey — what’s $5 million these days? The IISOH still has to work on the larger $25 million donations that will endow the Library, the Museum and the Theatre.

So — boxing fans — ROCKY can grace your estate if you have the money.
Then after you get it you can build 72 steps so you can run and jump to your heart’s content.

Contact Information:

International Institute for Sport and Olympic History
PO Box 175
State College, PA 16804
tel: (814) 237-8331
fax: (814) 237-8332

Harvey Abrams, President
Bruce Lorich, Treasurer


The International Institute for Sport and Olympic History is a Pennsylvania non-profit educational, literary and research corporation under section 501(c)3 of the Internal Revenue Code. The IISOH is organized to operate a Library and Museum devoted to the History of Sport, Physical Education, Recreation, Dance, Sport in Art and the Olympic Games.

I wonder if anyone will make a donation.

– Craig Zablo

Rocky Game Review

In the November 15, 2002 Video Games column of Entertainment Weekly the following review appears:

ROCKY *  (All; Ubi Soft; Teen) Yo, Adrian! This boxing extravaganza includes characters from all five Rocky films, and let’s you (playing as the Italian Stallion) go toe-to-toe with Apollo CreedClubber Lang, and Cold War pugilist Ivan Drago. Between fights, crusty old Mickey trains you on the speed bag while the Rocky orchestra’s “Gonna Fly Now” swells in the background (“Eye of the Tiger” is sorely missing from the soundtrack.) The cut scenes faithfully reenact key plot points from the movies, and the in-fight taunts are delivered verbatim from the films. But we have to deduct points for the game’s flaccid fighting engine, which looks awfully similar t Ready 2 Rumble Boxing and becomes repetitive after about three bouts. Rocky throws a lot of punches but, unfortunately, rarely connects. B-/ -NR- 

Craig Zablo
[November 10, 2002]

“Rocky” Films Hosted by Frank Stallone

Frank Stallone will be the host of ESPN Classic’s ‘Reel Classics‘ showing of the Rocky series every Sunday night at 9pm EST/6PM Pacific – throughout the whole month of June!! Check your local listings and tune in to watch Frank share all the inside stories on these great classics, and see his vast collection of boxing memorabilia!

Rocky Sunday June 2, 2002
Rocky II Sunday June 9, 2002
Rocky III Sunday June 16, 2002
Rocky IV Sunday June 23, 2002
Rocky V Sunday June 30, 2002

It’d be worth it to tune in and see Frank’s extensive boxing memorabilia! – Craig Zablo [May 31, 2002]