March 3, 2010

Professor Donald Miller Plays Numerous Roles in Production of HBO WWII Miniseries The Pacific

He serves as consultant, writer, and on-camera expert for the show’s web site and DVD; executive producers include Tom Hanks, Steven Spielberg
Donald Miller, John Henry MacCracken Professor of History, is a consultant and writer for the historical material that will accompany HBO’s 10-hour World War II miniseries The Pacific, which debuted March 14. The executive producers are Tom Hanks, Steven Spielberg, and Gary Goetzman, the creative team behind the Emmy-winning 2001 HBO miniseries Band of Brothers

He is chief historical consultant and writer for The Pacific’s ambitious web site, which will be launched on March 15, and is historical consultant and on-camera expert on the DVD and Blu-Ray components of the show, which will go on sale later this year.

The web site will include state-of-the-art interactive battle maps of the campaigns featured in the show, a documentary on The Making of The Pacific, a history of the Pacific War, background pieces on each of the show’s episodes, and interviews with Miller and veterans of the war.

The dramatic series was shot in Australia and is based on the stories of three U.S. Marines–Robert Leckie, Eugene Sledge, and John Basilone–who fought in the war’s Pacific theater.

Miller’s publisher, Simon & Schuster is publishing an updated version of his book, D-Days in the Pacific, which is the only general history of the Pacific War to feature Eugene Sledge. The book covers all of the bloody campaigns featured in the HBO series. Miller has published two other World War II histories: Masters of the Air: America’s Bomber Boys Who Fought the Air War Against Nazi Germany (2006); and The Story of World War II (2001), both published by Simon & Schuster.

In February, NPR aired At War in the Pacific, a one-hour radio companion piece to The Pacific. Miller and fellow historian Richard Frank provided background and analysis of the battles in the Pacific theater and Spielberg and Hanks shared the challenges of bringing new light and depth to a major historic event.

Miller also worked as a writer and historical consultant with Hanks on Beyond all Boundaries, an IMAX film that is the signature attraction of the National World War II Museum’s Soloman Victory Theater. Hanks served as the film’s producer and narrator, and the film features the voices of Kevin Bacon, Blythe Danner, Brad Pitt, Patricia Clarkson, Tobey Maguire, Viola Davis, Gary Sinise, and Elijah Wood and others.

Miller was writer and chief historical consultant for WWII in HD, a 10-hour series that aired on the History Channel in November 2009, and was the network’s most watched program of the fall season. Narrated by Emmy Award-winner Gary Sinise, the series was inspired by The Story of World War II.

Miller also appeared as an on-camera expert on PBS’ American Experience program The Bombing of Germany. The one-hour documentary premiered in February, and was based in part on Masters of the Air. Miller served as the production’s principal consultant.

The chapters on the Pacific theater from The Story of World War II were adopted for an award-winning American Experience television documentary, Victory in the Pacific, which aired in May 2005. The film was nominated for three Emmy Awards: Outstanding Historical Programming-Long Form; Outstanding Individual Achievement in a Craft: Writing; and Outstanding Individual Achievement in a Craft: Research.

Miller has won six awards for excellence in teaching, five fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, and a number of prestigious book awards. As in many of Miller’s projects, students played a key role in the production of his books, including fact checking, proofreading, and critiquing Masters of the Air and The Story of World War II. Ten Lafayette students worked as interns on WWII in HD, with several staying on after graduation to continue work on the project. All of them worked in close concert with Miller as head of the history department’s internship program.

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