Rita Vennari Elected President of Association of Talent Agents

Rita Vennari has been elected president of the Association of Talent Agents, the trade organization that has been locked in a battle with the Writers Guild of America for nearly a year.

Vennari is president of SBV Talent, a commercial and voiceover agency that she founded in 1978. She will serve a two-year term as president of the ATA. She succeeds Jim Gosnell, CEO of APA, in the role. Rick Levy of ICM, Harry Gold of TalentWorks, Shelly Sroloff of CAA and Pearl Wexler of Kohner Agency were also elected to officer posts.

“I congratulate President Vennari and the newly elected board of directors and officers. President Vennari’s 15-year dedication to ATA has been evidenced by her volunteer service on dozens of ATA’s committees and industry events,” said Karen Stuart, executive director of ATA. “Congratulations to Rick Levy, 1st VP, Harry Gold, 2nd VP, Glenn Salners, 3rd
VP, Shelly Sroloff, Treasurer and Pearl Wexler, Secretary – all of whom have served tirelessly for years.”

The transition in the presidency comes as the ATA is in the ninth month of a standoff with the WGA over the rules that govern how talent agents can represent guild members. The WGA in April implemented a new Code of Conduct for agents that bars them from receiving packaging fees and from being affiliated with companies that own production entities.

The dispute has sparked lawsuits from both camps. WME, CAA and UTA have sued the WGA, asserting that the guild has overstepped its bounds as a union in the imposition of the Code of Conduct. The WGA sued WME, CAA, UTA and ICM Partners, alleging that package fees were a form of racketeering and that the practice meant agents were violating their fiduciary duty to clients.

Earlier this month, the federal judge overseeing the case ruled strongly in favor of the agencies in refusing the WGA’s request to dismiss the agencies’ lawsuit. On Jan. 24, another hearing will be held on the agencies’ request to dismiss the WGA’s lawsuit.

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