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A new bedtime story voiced by Jimmy Stewart just in time for Christmas, 26 years after his death

By Jennifer Korn, CNN

(CNN) — Thanks to generative AI technology, you can now listen to a soothing Christmas bedtime story told by the late legendary actor Jimmy Stewart.

Stewart, star of “It’s a Wonderful Life” who died in 1997, is the voice behind a new audio story released Tuesday on the sleep and meditation app Calm. Generative AI helps to imitate Stewart’s distinctive tone, replicated with the approval of the actor’s family and estate, managed by CMG Worldwide.

Titled “It’s a Wonderful Sleep Story,” the bedtime tale kicks off on Christmas Eve, giving listeners a festive story as part of Calm’s Sleep Stories. The collection is meant to guide users to bed with calming voices and very few plot points, with Stewart’s story now available to premium Calm subscribers.

“We are excited for our Dad to be the voice of Calm’s latest Sleep Story,” said Kelly Stewart Harcourt via a Calm statement to CNN. “It’s amazing what technology can do and wonderful to see Dad’s legacy live on this holiday season in new ways, like helping people find restful sleep and sweet dreams.”

While the story itself was written and produced by Calm, the app worked with voice cloning company Respeecher to create a sound similar to Stewart. Respeecher, a Ukrainian-based AI voice company, says it relied on “a few dozen minutes” of existing recordings of the actor’s voice to train its system, blending that together with a voice actor reading the story out loud to create the finished version seemingly read by Stewart himself. Respeecher has also done projects recreating other iconic voices including Vince Lombardi, Luke Skywalker, and Darth Vader and announced a $1 million “pre-series A” fundraising round Wednesday.

“Well, hello. I’m James Stewart, but, well, you can call me Jimmy,” the audio opens in what sounds exactly like Stewart’s signature soothing tone. “Tonight, I’m going to tell you a story. It’s a heartwarming story of love, of loss, of hope and of joy but most of all, it’s a wonderful sleep story.”

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