The Trump Files: That One Time Trump Wanted to Make An Awful TV Show About Himself

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This post was originally published as part of “The Trump Files“—a collection of telling episodes, strange but true stories, and curious scenes from the life of our current president—on August 29, 2016.

Before his presidential run, Donald Trump was probably best known over the last few years for his role on The Apprentice. The smashing success of that show apparently gave Trump even bigger dreams of TV stardom. So during the two years after the reality competition first aired in 2004, the Washington Post discovered, Trump hired a television writer named Gay Walch to write the pilot of The Tower, a drama series based on Trump’s life.

The Tower would have told the story of real estate mogul John Barron, which was also the name of the fake spokesman Trump invented to plant stories about himself in the press. The use of the Barron name for the main character was Trump’s only demand of Walch, according to Washington Post reporters Michael Kranish and Marc Fisher in their new book, Trump Revealed. The show would follow Barron and his Barron Organization (another subtle nod, this time to the Trump Organization) in their quest to build the world’s tallest building. Sadly, as Kranish and Fisher wrote, “it just wasn’t great, network executives said.”

We don’t have to take their word for it. In February, the Post got a copy of one of the scenes from the pilot and decided to film the wooden dialogue and fake Queens accents for all the world to see.

The Tower never got the green light, but Trump told Kranish and Fisher earlier this year that he’d like to revive the project. “Depending on what happened with this thing [the presidential election], I’d like to do that,” he said. “Of course if this goes all the way, I can’t do it. I won’t have the time. And it wouldn’t be appropriate.” (That apparently doesn’t apply to The Apprentice, though. According to Vanity Fair, before he launched his presidential bid, Trump discussed continuing to host the show while in office if he won the election.)

Whatever its artistic value, the script does get one important fact wrong. “A project of this scope comes along maybe once in a lifetime,” says the mulleted actor who plays Barron, talking about his dream to build the world’s biggest skyscraper. In fact, the real-life Trump tried at least three times to do just that—and failed every time.

 

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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America will move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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