John Bridges' beloved Gentleman guide may find new life as a CBS comedy series 

A Gentleman Gets His Sitcom

A Gentleman Gets His Sitcom

David Hornsby was in high school when his mother gave him a copy of John Bridges' etiquette book How to Be a Gentleman: A Contemporary Guide to Common Courtesy for Christmas. She gave his brother a copy too; a picture shows the two of them pretending to be overjoyed by the gift.

As it turns out, Hornsby, who is now the writer and executive producer of the FX series It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, actually read the etiquette book and held onto it, says Bridges: "When Hornsby's agent first contacted me nearly two years ago, she told me that he loved the book and was interested in optioning it. Of course I told her I'd be glad to talk to him."

The proposal Hornsby sent to Bridges included, in addition to the photograph, a letter thanking Bridges for their conversation (clearly the man has read Bridges' book) and a note from Hornsby's own mother: "She told me how much she liked How to Be a Gentleman and how much she appreciated its being in the world and how glad she was that I wrote it."

Bridges was totally game for what Hornsby had in mind: a buddy show about a fastidious man who is learning, with the help of an old high-school classmate, to live in a world where other people don't behave with impeccable manners themselves.

"I thought it was a great idea," says Bridges. "How to Be a Gentleman is not a book that would just jump into your mind when you watch It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, but I loved what he had in mind. The show is only loosely based on the book, and 'loosely based' is the operative term."

Ultimately, Media Rights Capital optioned rights to the book from Thomas Nelson, the publishing company that brought out How to Be a Gentleman, and Hornsby wrote the script on spec. Last week CBS bought the pilot, which will begin production in May. Hornsby will write, produce and star in it.

So is Bridges thrilled about this unlikely second life for his etiquette book? "Nothing really thrills me," Bridges says. "This is a highly positive development, and I'm real, real interested to see what happens, but I've been around the block enough to know that nothing's happened until something happens. But I went on and sent David Hornsby a note after I heard about this. I told him how happy I was to hear this news, and please give his mother my best."

For more local book coverage, please visit Chapter16.org, an online publication of Humanities Tennessee.

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