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Verve in Talks to Sign Modified WGA Code of Conduct for Talent Agents

Verve Talent and Literary Agency is in preliminary talks with the Writers Guild of America to sign the guild’s code of conduct, sources tell Variety.

The guild is believed to have made some modifications to its initial code to make it more palatable to agencies like Verve.

If a deal is signed, it would mark a major breakthrough in the month-long standoff between Hollywood agents and writers. The nine-year-old agency would be by far the most prominent of the nearly 70 agencies that have agreed to the code.

The WGA and Verve had no comment about the negotiations.

Members of the WGA approved the code in March, with the requirement that agents cannot represent WGA members unless the agents agree to bans on collecting packaging fees on and owning stakes in production companies. The code also requires agents to provide the guild with a copy of the agreement or a summary of essential deal terms of any agreement engaging the writer’s services.

The code went into effect on April 13 after the WGA and the Association of Talent Agents saw talks crater over efforts to revamp the 43-year-old rules governing how agents represent WGA members.

Most major agencies have refused to sign the code — resulting in WGA leadership requiring that members fire their agents. The WGA also sued CAA, WME, UTA and ICM on April 17, alleging illegal conflict-of-interest practices, while the ATA has threatened legal action over managers and lawyers who perform agenting tasks of procuring employment.

No new negotiations have been scheduled. Instead, both sides have continued taking potshots at each other during the past month.

By signing with the WGA, Verve would be able to re-sign writers who were required to dismiss their agents, along with writers who have been without an agent.

Verve was formed in 2010 by partners Bryan Besser, Adam Levine and Bill Weinstein, with a focus on representing feature film writers and directors. The agency currently has about 30 agents. Notable clients have included Leah Remini, Jennifer Westfeldt, Howard Deutch, Colin Trevorrow, Gil Bellows and Tasha Smith. Verve is not a member of the ATA, which represents more than 100 agencies, including CAA, UTA, WME and ICm.

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