2011–The 75th Anniversary of GWTW, the book, based in part on writings from the Mitchell family scrapbook, shown above.
Wednesday nights when Happy Town runs on ABC, (9 p.m. Central) Gone With The Wind fans will know that it has a connection to their favorite movie. The Co-producer of Happy Town is Paul Rabwin, son of Marcella Rabwin. Marcella was GWTW producer David O. Selznick’s executive assistant.
Marcella was involved in all aspects of Gone With The Wind, and even though Paul Rabwin was not born during the time Selznick was shooting the movie, he has heard all about it. He shared some of his insights in book The Making Of A Masterpiece. His father, Dr. Marcus Rabwin was a physician at Cedars Sinai in Los Angeles and was known as surgeon to the stars—he even delivered Judy Garland—so Paul has been around the movie business all his life.
Happy Town is set in Haplin, Minnesota, and according to Rabwin, “Haplin is the best town in the country to live in…no crime, the town smells like the bread factory all day, everyone smiles all the time.”
Rabwin got his chance to work on the set of this fictional town, but in reality, he might have ended up living in a small town in Minnesota himself if his father had not become a doctor and his parents had not moved to California.
“When our father was younger (before he became a doctor) he was in the movie distribution business in Minnesota,” said Mark Rabwin, Paul’s brother. “He delivered movies to Frank Gumm, a movie theater owner who also lived in Minnesota They became very good friends and after our parents moved to Los Angeles, my father persuaded the Gumm family to move out there also.”
Gumm ended up being the father of Frances Gumm who became Judy Garland. Marcus Rabwin graduated from the University of Minnesota Medical School, so it is an interesting side-note that Paul Rabwin’s current television series is based in that state.
Back to Happy Town. The story goes that some new folks have arrived in town, and some very dark secrets are being revealed. Haplin may not be such a “happy” town after all!
The series has been touted as a little like Twin Peaks, with a dark side as well as a very funny side. Twin Peaks had the public wondering “Who killed Laura Palmer?” Though Haplin seems like a perfectly safe place, there is a grisly murder underneath it all and viewers will be wondering in this show also.
“I think we have great characters, twists and turns,” said Rabwin. “It will always keep you guessing, and very entertained!”
The show was created by Scott Rosenberg, along with Andre Nemec and Josh Applebaum whose recent credits include October Road and Life on Mars, both of which Rabwin worked on. Happy Town was filmed in Toronto.
“The use of music, and the sparkling dialogue make their shows unique,” said Rabwin from the set in Los Angeles. “The casting is so different…this is unlike any show on the air today. Scott Rosenberg has a long history in features and TV, and Happy Town is another gem.”
Nemec and Applebaum are currently writing the new Mission: Impossible for JJ Abrams and Tom Cruise…so this series has an interesting pedigree.
Working for ABC, Paul Rabwin co-produced eight of the Happy Town episodes. He is a big-time producer/director who besides the recent shows like Flash Forward, Life on Mars and October Road, worked on classics like The X Files (including the recent X-Files movie) and CHiPs.
The star character of the show, Geoff Stults is the happily married son of the town’s longtime sheriff, and has one child. His best friend is the Big Dave Duncan character played by Abraham Benrubi. St. Louis fans know Benrubi’s dad as Asher Benrubi, better known as the popular DJ, “Smash.” Geoff Stults will be called upon to make some serious choices throughout the series.
“Geoff Stults, is a break-out in this series– he’ll be familiar to everyone soon!” said Rabwin. “I also love the character we call ‘Handsome Dan’, played by Peter Outerbridge. Over the course of this series, Outerbridge emerges as one of the most fascinating and surprising actors on television.”
Actor Sam Neill, who played paleontologist Dr Alan Grant in Jurassic Park I and II and Alisdair Stewart in The Piano among other roles, plays Merritt Grieves. Grieves runs a movie-memorabilia store.
“I love Sam Neill in this series,” said Rabwin, “His role is urbane, sophisticated, ominous, and mysterious.”
Variety Magazine described Neil’s character as “channeling Vincent Price,” and said “After previewing three episodes, ‘Happy Town’ (the series) does establish that it isn’t strictly a one-horse affair.”
The commercials and trailers all seem to show Happy Town as having a “horror” dimension so Rabwin was asked if it was scary.
“This series has a significant scare factor…but in a great way!” he answered. “It is creepy, moody, and a little intense at times. Yet, it is hysterically funny at times, and is full of entertaining surprises. I think you’ll love it!”
Paul Rabwin is checking his schedule for a possible appearance at the St. Louis Gone With The Wind festival, Gateway To The Wind. Updated information will appear on the “events” page of this blog.
By Sally Tippett Rains, author of The Making Of A Masterpiece, The True Story of Margaret Mitchell’s Classic Novel, Gone With The Wind (www.GWTWbook.com). Paul Rabwin was a consultant on the book and was interviewed for it. April 26, 2010