Verve: The Little Agency That Could Black List

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The upstart agency, along with Paradigm, has more scripts on the list than one-time powerhouse ICM and the long-established Gersh and APA

The biggest surprise on this year's Black List isn't a screenplay but that a 23-month-old boutique literary agency has beaten the one-time powerhouse ICM — as well as established firms APA and Gersh — when it comes to number of represented scripts.

Verve is tied with Paradigm, both of which have four screenplays on the list.

ICM and APA each represent three. And Gersh, the Nethercott Agency and Original Artists, each represent one.

Also read: 'The Imitation Game' Tops 2011 Black List

Verve and Paradigm — as expected — lag behind WME, CAA and UTA, which have 21, 20 and 18 scripts on the list released Monday.

The upstart Verve is headed by former WME agents Bryan Besser, Bill Weinstein and Adam Levine. It has six agents, including former Gersh agent Amy Rezinger, who joined the Verve early this month.

Verve's screenplays on the Black List are:

>> "Bastards" (17 votes), Justin Malen's tale of two brothers raised to believe that their biological father died, who go on the road to search for their father after they learn that their mother slept with many powerful and famous men in the 1970s.

>> "Grim Night" (11 votes), Allen Bey and Brandon Bestenheider's story about a family that has to defend itself from strange creatures who attack Earth and kill thousands of people one night per year.

>> "Flashback" (9 votes), Will Honley's story about a former NASA pilot with amnesia who rediscovers his love for his wife after realizing he can travel back in time.

>> "Breyton Ave" (6 votes), J. Daniel Shaffer's tale about a group of teens who live in a small fenced-in neighborhood without adults and are forced to face what they fear is danger beyond the fence.

The agency's clients also include "TRON: Legacy" director Joseph Kosinski, "Toy Story 3," "Little Miss Sunshine" and "Rock of Ages" screenwriter Michael Arndt and "Journey 2: The Mysterious Island" and "Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore" director Brad Peyton.

There are 73 scripts on this year's Black List — Franklin Leonard's annual compilation of favored unproduced screenplays. "The Imitation Game," by Graham Moore — the story of a British cryptographer Alan Turing, who cracked the German Enigma Code during World War II but poisoned himself after being criminally prosecuted for being gay — is No. 1 on the list. CAA represents Moore.

Eight of the top 11 — two scripts are tied for 10th place with 27 votes each — are by writers represented by CAA.