American Playhouse announced that production started yesterday on the telepic “Hallelujah,” which stars Dennis Haysbert, James Earl Jones and Phylicia Rashad.

“Hallelujah” marks the television debut for director Charles Lane, who previously helmed the features “Sidewalk Stories” and Touchstone Pictures’ “True Identity.”

The American Playhouse project is an African-American Christmas story about a young minister assigned to the most powerful church in Washington, D.C.

American Playhouse commissioned Michael Genet to write the teleplay. It has the movie penciled in for broadcast on the Public Broadcast System in December. “Hallelujah” is produced by Howard Brickner.

Also rising to the “Hallelujah” occasion are cast members Isaac Hayes, Ruth Brown, Suzzanne Douglas, Kristian Damian, Deon Richmond, screenwriter Genet and Rosanna Carter.

In its 12th year of broadcast, American Playhouse has an ambitious movie and television release schedule in 1993.

Beyond “Hallelujah,” it’s involved in such upcoming theatrical projects as “Golden Gate,” Kenneth Branagh’s “Much Ado About Nothing,” as well as the April 28 broadcast of director George C. Wolfe’s “Fires in the Mirror.”

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