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Universal Buys Horror Script in First Verve Sale Since Signing With WGA

Universal Pictures has bought an untitled horror script by Peter Gaffney in the first such sale since Verve signed the Writers Guild of America’s code of conduct two weeks ago.

Shawn Levy and Dan Levine will produce the film for 21 Laps Entertainment alongside Adam Kolbrenner for his Lit Entertainment Group. 21 Laps and Lit Entertainment are currently in production together on “Free Guy,” the Ryan Reynolds movie that Levy is directing.

Universal’s executive vice president of production Matt Reilly and director of development Lexi Barta will oversee the project on behalf of the studio. Gaffney is represented by Verve and manager Adam Rodin. Rodin will also produce. The news was first reported by Deadline Hollywood.

Verve defected from the major agencies on May 16 when it became the first sizable Hollywood talent agency to sign the WGA’s code of conduct. That gave the guild a win in its standoff with agencies over the issue of packaging fees and ownership of production companies. The guild directed its nearly 15,000 members on April 12, when negotiations cratered, to terminate relations with agents who refused to sign its new code.

The WGA agreed last week to resume negotiations with Hollywood’s talent agents, six weeks after talks between the two sides fell apart. WGA West president David A. Goodman announced on May 22 that the WGA had approved a proposal by UTA co-president Jay Sures to get back to the bargaining table. No date was specified for the resumption of talks.

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