Screenwriter and Producer Bruce McKenna to Speak at Athenaeum

The Marian Miner Cook Athenaeum is pleased to present Bruce McKenna, Emmy-winning screenwriter and producer, on Oct. 12 with “Writing History onto Screen.” McKenna will provide insight into the intensive process behind producing vivid portrayals of war and other historical events.

McKenna, interested in World War II since childhood, initially partnered with Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks on Band of Brothers (2001), the highly acclaimed HBO miniseries for which he wrote three episodes. One of McKenna’s episodes, “Bastogne,” was awarded a Writers Guild Award in 2003. Later Spielberg and Hanks approached McKenna again to develop the story of a new HBO miniseries The Pacific (2010). Through extensive research, McKenna selected the books that served as the basis for the story, as well as the men represented in the mini-series. Additionally, he is credited with writing seven of the ten episodes. The Pacific won eight Emmy Awards in 2010, including “Outstanding Miniseries.”

McKenna has also worked on several film projects, including the adaptation of Once Upon a Distant War and The Perfect Mile. He and his wife have produced off-Broadway plays in New York. McKenna’s first book, The Pena Files, is a true account of Octavio Pena, a private investigator and the only man to infiltrate both the IRS and the mafia.

Before his work in film and television, McKenna was a journalist and freelance writer, with work appearing in The National Review, The New York Times, and other publications. McKenna graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Wesleyan University, earning a bachelor’s degree in European history. He went on to spend a year at Stanford in their Ph.D. program in Russian and Soviet history, focusing on early 20th century Russian fascism.

Bruce McKenna’s appearance at the Athenaeum is sponsored by the Family of Benjamin Z. Gould Center for Humanistic Studies, where he is a member of the Advisory Board. McKenna’s visit to campus also coincides with the commemoration of the 103rd birthday of his grandfather, Donald McKenna, founding trustee of Claremont McKenna College.

Visit the Athenaeum home page for more information.

– Katherine Wernet ’11