It was 1987 and I was launching my career as a voiceover
artist, building on my years at NBC News as a radio anchorman and manager. The world of commercials never interested me,
but I did do a lot of “industrials” and training tapes. The producers said they liked my “newsy “reading
Then came cassette books (aka books on tape).
Stockton, Reagan’s economic adviser. That led to my next opportunity: being the voice of Donald Trump’s first book,
“The Art of
I recorded several, including one for David
For this gig I had to audition. For The Donald!
You see, “The Art of the Deal” (though co-authored by Trump
and NY Magazine’s Tony Schwartz) was written in the first person, like a
diary. It was all “I did this and I did
that”, as if Trump was speaking directly to you. But Trump himself didn’t want to record the
narration, though he did want to know who would be “playing him”.
So I went to the studio and laid down a few paragraphs of the
book in my best announcer’s delivery.
There was no acting or trying to mimick his accent or style. I just read the words in a conversational
tone. They must have played my audition
for Trump or one of his team and apparently liked what they heard. I got the gig.
Then, the project was put on hold for a few weeks.
It turns out that the hiatus was so that the Trump folks
could re-write history. Because the
cassette book was coming out weeks after the print version, it was decided to eliminate
from the audio book many chapters from the printed book. And what did they excise? All of Trump’s writings about deals that had
gone-bad between the time he wrote about them and the time we’d be recording.
This is fairly common in audio books: they rarely are a verbatim recording of the
full book, but a “light” version of just part of the original. Some producers choose to keep the best written
parts of the print version. Trump’s
people chose to only keep the parts that made him look good.
For example, the book version of “The Art of the Deal” went into great details
about Trump’s US Football League. On the
audio tape, there’s no mention of that
With a final script in hand we did the recording session and
the cassette book was released. List
price was $9.95, though a recent copy was offered online for $75. My copy is not for sale.
Oh yeah… in addition to getting paid for my “talents”, the
audio tape carries a short credit:
“Jim Cameron has
worked in radio for over 20 years as a correspondent for United Stations
Network and as news director of stations in New England and NBC’s “Source”
Young Adult Network in New York”.
PS: The later audio
book versions of Trump’s writings were, I believe, narrated by him. That’s fine by me.