Media Life:Timing right for Auburn author’s subprime meltdown thriller

Placer’s classic silents, “Godfather Part II” get their due in new exhibit with “Phenomenon”
By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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“Ripped from today’s headlines” may be one of those old gumshoe-style phrases. But it fit perfectly when Jeffrey Schlaman’s novel “Subprime Factor” rolled off the Synergy Books presses last week. Schlaman, who works as a finance executive in England, uses the mortgage and credit crisis as a springboard into corporate intrigue, a conspiracy theory or two, and plenty of suspense. What make’s Schlaman’s book stand out from the crowd of tomes locally is the liberal use of Auburn locations in some crucial chapters – and the author’s strong Auburn roots. Schlaman was in Auburn last weekend and signed quite a few copies of his first novel at Downtown’s Winston Smith Books. “A shadowy collective of representatives from the nation’s most powerful financial companies and government agencies is colluding to ‘erase’ the massive economic mistakes that caused the credit crunch and collapse of the recent housing bubble,” the book’s blurb proclaims. “Subprime Factor” hero Doug Boyd – who starts off the book as a trod-upon accountant – will fight through the pages to gather enough evidence to blow the cover on the conspiracy while risking his life and career. Auburn readers can travel along with Boyd and Schlaman to several local locations. Schlaman grew up in Auburn, going to Rock Creek Elementary and E.V. Cain Middle schools before graduating from Placer High in 1992. His mother, Sue Kracke and stepfather, Greg, still live in the city. As a teenager, Schlaman would explore the underground tunnels of Old Town. In “Subprime Factor,” he uses the short tunnel network as a setting for a nail-biter of a chase scene – but uses some writer’s license to extend those tunnels into a network of dank caves traversing the city and leading to the American River canyon. On the surface, Old Town’s California Club also gets prominent mention, as does Auburn itself, along with Jekyll Island, Ga., San Francisco and Washington, D.C. Schlaman returned to Auburn from his home in Chester, near the border of Wales and England, to launch a book tour that will take him to the Bay Area, Alabama, West Virginia, Toronto, Canada and back to the United Kingdom. FAB FOUR FILMS With a “Phenomenon” movie celebration coming to Old Town Auburn late this month, Placer County Museums is getting in on the act. The courthouse museum on Maple Street will open an exhibit to correspond with the Oct. 29 street party-reunion. The exhibit will celebrate four movies that have the “Made in Placer County” stamp and perhaps are the best of the many shot on location in the county. Released in 1996 and a summer blockbuster, “Phenomenon” was filmed the previous fall in Auburn and environs that included Machado’s Orchard and Recreation Park. The Old Town celebration will serve as a reunion for many extras and plans are to show the film outdoors. Museums programs manager Ralph Gibson has been assembling photos from the “Phenomenon” shoot for a slide show welcoming visitors to the exhibit. Inside, they’ll find information and images from “Phenomenon” and three other films – “The Gold Rush,” “Greed,” and “The Godfather Part II.” “The Gold Rush” a 1925 film starring Charlie Chaplin, was partly filmed in the Sierra above Colfax, “Greed” one of the most critically acclaimed silent classics, contains opening scenes shot in Iowa Hill, although the movie’s titles suggested the location was Foresthill. The fourth film in the exhibit, “The Godfather Part II” utilized a privately owned lake house on the shore of Lake Tahoe. It gives the county a picturesque place in a movie that some say is the best sequel – if not motion picture – of all time. “Greed,” filmed for a 1924 release, is perhaps the oddest example of how a community can end up on the cutting room floor. Director Erich von Stroheim was infamous for going over-budget and filming long. He ended up with a nine-hour film – legendary today but not the kind of product movie moguls believed would play in Peoria back in the early 1920s. They slashed it to two hours and, sadly, threw away the film. Gibson said that much of the early part of the movie included scenes shot underground in Iowa Hill. The museums division plans to show “The Gold Rush” at the courthouse museum and “Greed” at the Gold Country Museum at the fairgrounds in Auburn. As for “Godfather II,” because it’s R-rated, there are no plans to present it at a museum at this time. Media Life’s Gus Thomson can be reached at