Charles Dutton remembers everything about Boy Willie and "The Piano Lesson," the August Wilson play in which he is featured. "I can remember the original stage reading of the play, the production moving from Yale to Boston to Chicago to San Diego to Washington to Los Angeles and finally to New York," in 1990, said Dutton, "and all the time the play was in a constant state of flux." It settled in New York for a long run and won a Pulitzer Prize. Now it has been turned into a Hallmark Hall of Fame presentation, airing Sunday at 9 on CBS. The production also brings Dutton back to network television in the wake of his sometimes stormy tenure on Fox Broadcasting's "Roc," which left wounds he would like to see salved. But returning to "The Piano Lesson" brings a smile. "To actually get to do it for posterity, with several members of the original cast coming back for it, is a joy to behold. The play never left my system. I wanted to take one more shot at doing it before I got too old." It is hard to imagine Dutton being too old for Boy Willie. He blows onto the screen as he blew onto the stage, an ambitious man with a plan. He huffs and puffs into town in 1936, bent on persuading his sister Berniece, played by cast-newcomer Alfre Woodard, to sell their upright piano, which is intricately engraved with the family history. She can't bear to part with it. He wants to sell it and buy the land on which their forebears worked as slaves. Land, he reminds us with visionary fervor, is the only thing God isn't making any more of. Four other actors from the Broadway production are on hand: Carl Gordon as Doaker; Tommy Hollis, Avery; Lou Myers, Wining Boy, and Rosalyn Coleman as Grace. Courtney B. Vance plays Lymon, and Zelda Harris is Berniece's daughter Maretha. Wilson, who has been showered with honors, including two Pulitzer Prizes -- one for "The Piano Lesson" -- said he was happy when the Hallmark people approached him. "I thought it was an opportunity to have my work filmed the way I wanted, with some integrity and by a class organization. Hallmark is well known for quality TV. . . Also, they did not have any problem with Lloyd Richards directing." Richards and Wilson have collaborated on virtually every Wilson stage production to date, and they have made a wonderful translation for television. The stage play, Wilson recalled, ran 2 1/2 hours. The teleplay runs two hours and includes many scenes carrying the action beyond the play's single set. "It was fun because I did have to write new material," said Wilson. "I felt it embellished the work, telling the story with pictures -- using the eye instead of your ear. Cutting the old material to make room for the new and to accommodate the TV time frame "in some places was hard, overall it was not." The telefilm was shot in Pittsburgh, Wilson's home town and the setting for the play. Dutton, who feels he has almost total recall of the original script, believes most people who have seen the play will have a hard time detecting what has been cut. "I think there were a few clumsy points, where characters talk and then suddenly make their points. That means two-thirds of the speech was taken out of the middle . . . But all the strokes are in this piece." The piece has been a pivotal one in Dutton's career. He had starred in other Wilson productions, he noted, but none of the others "moved me to the next level. This piece did." The next level he chose turned out to be a Fox sitcom, "Roc," that saw Dutton often in conflict with the network's producers over the direction and tone of the show. "Now that Roc' is over," said Dutton, "I'll say this: I probably responded in a lot of cases, admittedly, in hindsight, with impatience a lot of times. I probably responded arrogantly a lot of times. Probably irresponsibly sometimes . . . to the network." Dutton said he feels wiser now about the television business and would bring a smoother act to another series. But, he said, there were principles to be fought for. "When I hear stories about Roseanne being a despot on her series, I understand those dynamics," he said. "Bill Cosby, who's the most humble, soft-spoken man out of the studio, I heard was the most arrogant, tyrannical guy you could find for the eight seasons of his show. You have a vision for what you want to do, and once you get an executive producer and a studio, that vision is shattered into a million pieces." For Dutton, the idea was to have a show he and other African-Americans could look back on years from now and not dismiss as a show of black buffoonery. "I didn't want to wind up as another J.J. {referring to the Jimmie Walker character on the '70s sitcom "Good Times"} or Martin {the main character on the current Fox sitcom}, where I think he'll be in five or six years . . . . "In 73 or 74 episodes of Roc,' I don't think there was a moment of buffoonery amid the broad comedy. I look at the reruns now on BET, and I'm still pretty proud." CAPTION: Courtney Vance, Charles Dutton, Lou Myers, Zelda Harris, Alfre Woodard, Carl Gordon and Tommy Hollis. CAPTION: Playwright August Wilson, director Lloyd Richards.