‘Miracle’ deal for Bell

Actor to star in 'Santa Rosa'

Drake Bell (“Drake & Josh”) has signed a producing deal with Virtus Entertainment and will star in “The Miracle of Santa Rosa” for the newly minted banner.

Virtus, headed by Bill MacDonald (“Rome”) and Frank Rainone, plans to begin lensing the pic this fall in Italy. Rainone will direct from a script he co-wrote with Nick Sidorovich; story centers on an American who returns to his ancestral home in Italy to spread his father’s ashes.

In addition to starring, Bell will take an active producing role. He’ll also star in Virtus miniseries “The Flying Tigers,” produced by MacDonald and focused on a squadron of American pilots who fought the Japanese in Asia immediately after the attack on Pearl Harbor but prior to the U.S. entry into WWII.

Bell’s starring in the Lionsgate and Element comedy “College,” directed by Deb Hagan. Shooting began Monday in New Orleans.

“Drake & Josh” debuted in January 2004, scoring with Nick’s highest-rated series premiere in almost 10 years.

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