David McKenna (writer)

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David McKenna
Born (1968-08-14) August 14, 1968 (age 53)
San Diego, California, U.S.
OccupationScreenwriter, producer

David McKenna (born August 14, 1968) is an American screenwriter and producer. He is best known for writing the screenplays for American History X (1998), Blow (2001) and S.W.A.T. (2003). He is also a film professor at Columbia University and Barnard College.


McKenna wrote and sold American History X when he was 26. It drew from his upbringing around the punk music scene, as well as interviews with real skinheads. The film became the focus of a post-production dispute between director Tony Kaye and lead actor Edward Norton.[1] Made on a budget of $20 million, the film grossed $24 million at the worldwide box office.[2] He then wrote the screenplays for Blow, about American cocaine smuggler George Jung, and Get Carter, a remake of the 1971 film of the same name, starring Michael Caine. Also in 2001, his adaptation of the book Bully: A True Story of High School Revenge by Jim Schutze was released as Bully. The book and film were based on the 1993 murder of Bobby Kent. Mckenna was unhappy with the finished film, and chose to be credited under the pseudonym Zachary Long.

He was also the creator and Executive Producer of NBC's E-Ring (2005–2006).[3][4][5] The show starred Benjamin Bratt as Major James Tisnewski, a former Delta Force operator and Dennis Hopper as Colonel Eli McNulty, as officers working in the E-ring of the Pentagon in the Special Operations Division (SOD) – planning and co-ordinating covert US special operations actions around the globe. The show struggled from the onset because it was up against ABC's Top 20 hit Lost, CBS's Top 30 hit Criminal Minds, FOX's Top 10 hit American Idol and the network's Top 30 hit Unan1mous. Although NBC gave it an earlier time slot which led to better ratings, the show was pulled from the lineup during the February sweeps and officially canceled at the NBC upfront on May 15.

McKenna also ventured into video games, writing the script for the 2006 open world action-adventure video game Scarface: The World Is Yours.[6] The game is not a direct adaptation of the 1983 film directed by Brian De Palma, but is instead a broad strokes sequel which changes the ending of the film.


  1. ^ McCarthy, Todd (October 22, 1998). "American History X". Variety. Archived from the original on July 23, 2009. Retrieved July 23, 2009. It is possible that some otherwise well-disposed critics may restrain their praise, even unwittingly, in knee-jerk sympathy with director Kaye, who disowns this cut and lost his bid to take his name off the picture.
  2. ^ "American History X (1998)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved August 7, 2013.
  3. ^ https://www.palmbeachpost.com/article/20051117/ENTERTAINMENT/812039907
  4. ^ http://www.sdsualumni.org/s/997/index2.aspx?pgid=2774&gid=1
  5. ^ http://www.screenwritersutopia.com/article/cfab15b6
  6. ^ Fruchter, Alexander. "Soundslam Interviews". Soundslam. Archived from the original on March 20, 2012. Retrieved May 12, 2012.

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