Cast member Billy Ray Cyrus attends the premiere of Hannah Montana the Movie in Los Angeles April 2, 2009. REUTERS/Phil McCarten

Hallmark Channel is planning Christmas in Canaan, starring Billy Ray Cyrus.

The telefilm, slated to air in December, is based on a novel written by another country star/actor, Kenny Rogers, and Donald Davenport.

Christmas chronicles the unlikely friendship that develops between two boys -- DJ (Zak Ludwig), who is white, and Rodney (Jaishon Fisher), who is black -- in 1960s Texas as they bond over concern for a wounded puppy.

Cyrus plays DJ's dad, who, with Rodney's grandmother, concocts the puppy plan after the boys get into a schoolyard tussle.

Neill Fearnley is directing from a script by Davenport and a story by Rogers.