Leave it to a book, and now a television sitcom, to teach you "How to Be a Gentleman."
Not only has David Hornsby ("It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia") adapted the John Bridges best-seller subtitled "A Timely Guide to Timeless Manners," he's also the executive producer and star of the CBS series premiering Thursday, Sept. 29. Hornsby plays staid columnist Andrew, who becomes the protege of free-spirit trainer Bert (Kevin Dillon, fresh off HBO's "Entourage") in supposedly learning finer points of courtesy and chivalry.
Written in short bites under such section headings as "A Gentleman Goes to a Wedding" and "How to Respond to an Insult," the book offers lots of fodder for episodes. "My mom gave me that book, I don't know, 10 years ago or something," Hornsby recalls. "It has these short manners statements like 'A gentleman never makes a date out of desperation.' I just thought, 'Wow, what a great character who would have this kind of book.' "
And another potentially great character advises that one, with Bert to Andrew as one Oscar was to Felix. "I kind of saw it as maybe there could be a little bit of an 'Odd Couple' thing going on there," Dillon allows. "As odd as (Andrew) is to the world, I think I think Bert is equally as odd to the world. He lives in his own head as well, and he's kind of a weird cat, but he's got a big heart, and he's a lot of fun."
Additional "Gentleman" cast members include Dave Foley ("NewsRadio"), Mary Lynn Rajskub ("24"), Rhys Darby ("Flight of the Conchords") and Nancy Lenehan ("My Name Is Earl"). Hornsby expects to continue his recurring role as Rickety Cricket on FX's "Philadelphia" comedy, of which he's also a co-executive producer, but he also likes having a steadier acting vehicle for himself now.
"I responded to the book," he explains. "As an actor, you're always wanting people to hire you ... especially for a project you like. I've always found the best way to get what you want is to just go out and do it yourself. It always is a platform of what I could write that I could star in."