Franklin in 'Church' for Lionsgate

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NEW YORK -- Gospel superstar Kirk Franklin will play himself in "Church Boy," an autobiographical feature he's producing for Lionsgate.

Franklin is composing the soundtrack to the film, featuring his signature songs and several new numbers.

"Church Boy" follows the singer from his abandonment by a young mother to his direction of a Texas choir at age 11, a teenage dive into sex and drugs and his ultimate redemption and success.

Paul Hall, Bobby Smith Jr. and Robi Reed are producing the project with Franklin, and Will Young is serving as co-producer. Lionsgate president of production Mike Paseornek will oversee the project, which is expected to begin principal photography this spring and be released theatrically in 2008.

Lionsgate Music Publishing will co-publish Franklin's new songs with his publisher.

"Lionsgate is the perfect home for 'Church Boy,'" Franklin said. "This is a studio that has made a strong and genuine commitment to African-American audiences and faith-based audiences."

Franklin parlayed his millions of album sales and tour success to found Fo Yo Soul Entertainment, which includes a record label, production company, ad agency, youth outreach initiative and youth ministry.

The deal was negotiated for Lionsgate by exec vp business affairs Robert Melnik. Attorney Mitch Smelkinson of Stone, Meyer, Genow, Smelkinson & Binder repped Franklin, Smith, Reed and Young. Franklin was also repped by WMA, with APA repping Smith, Reed, Young and Fo Yo Soul Film and Television.
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