Pixar Head John Lasseter To Take A Leave Of Absence After Taking “Missteps”
Tuesday, November 21st, 2017 at 6:50 pm
The wave of sexual assault allegations continues to flow in, and people who were once highly respected by their peers are turning out to be creeps and perpetrators. Among those people are Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, Brett Ratner, and Louis C.K., all of whom have lost a great deal in the weeks since they’ve been outed.
Now, John Lasseter, the CCO of Pixar and head of Disney Animation Studios, is stepping away from his responsibilities and going on a six-month leave of absence in order to address some of the serious “missteps” he has taken throughout his career. More on the story below.
THR was the first to break the news, which included a memo to Pixar employees. In it, Lasseter admits to having “difficult conversations” in order to address some “serious missteps” that have made people he worked with feel “disrespected or uncomfortable.” While he said that was “never his intent,” the face of Pixar apologized and said that he would be taking a six-month leave of absence in order to address the very personal issues in hopes that he can return a changed man.
While Lasseter’s memo was vague on the details, THR says he is well-known for hugging his employees and others within the entertainment industry. However, insiders say he was also known for “grabbing, kissing, making comments about physical attributes.” Women who worked at Pixar also turned their heads away from Lasseter as they encountered him, in order to avoid one of those “kisses.” He was also known to drink heavy amounts of alcohol during social events and premiere parties. Other allegations included a woman defending herself from Lasseter’s advances during a meeting in which his hands traveled up a female employee’s skirt. Other sources supported these claims, and some have gone on to say that photos of him had to be cropped.
It’s not clear how many victims there are, but it is having a huge impact on Pixar projects. In the same report, it’s revealed that Rashida Jones and her writing partner Will McCormack, will no longer be a part of Toy Story 4, although they will still be credited as writers of the next installment of the Pixar franchise. Sources say the two left after Lasseter, who was returning to direct the fourth entry, made unwanted advances towards Jones. Jones and McCormack have yet to respond to these reports, and Disney has released a statement saying that the two left due to creative differences.
The report also makes it clear that multiple sources spoke to the Hollywood trade, “but asked not to be named out of fear that their careers in the tight-knit animation community would be damaged.” Hopefully, with more and more victims coming out, these “sources” are able to speak out about these allegations publicly and not have to use anonymity out of fear of being blacklisted. No one should have to do that, let alone go through the horrors of being sexually assaulted. But at the same time, you have to understand why they are unable to share their names.
Here’s the full memo via THR:
I have always wanted our animation studios to be places where creators can explore their vision with the support and collaboration of other gifted animators and storytellers. This kind of creative culture takes constant vigilance to maintain. It’s built on trust and respect, and it becomes fragile if any members of the team don’t feel valued. As a leader, it’s my responsibility to ensure that doesn’t happen; and I now believe I have been falling short in this regard.
I’ve recently had a number of difficult conversations that have been very painful for me. It’s never easy to face your missteps, but it’s the only way to learn from them. As a result, I’ve been giving a lot of thought to the leader I am today compared to the mentor, advocate and champion I want to be. It’s been brought to my attention that I have made some of you feel disrespected or uncomfortable. That was never my intent. Collectively, you mean the world to me, and I deeply apologize if I have let you down. I especially want to apologize to anyone who has ever been on the receiving end of an unwanted hug or any other gesture they felt crossed the line in any way, shape, or form. No matter how benign my intent, everyone has the right to set their own boundaries and have them respected.
In my conversations with Disney, we are united in our commitment to always treat any concerns you have with the seriousness they deserve, and to address them in an appropriate manner. We also share a desire to reinforce the vibrant, respectful culture that has been the foundation of our studios’ success since the beginning. And we agree the first step in that direction is for me to take some time away to reflect on how to move forward from here. As hard as it is for me to step away from a job I am so passionate about and a team I hold in the highest regard, not just as artists but as people, I know it’s the best thing for all of us right now. My hope is that a six-month sabbatical will give me the opportunity to start taking better care of myself, to recharge and be inspired, and ultimately return with the insight and perspective I need to be the leader you deserve.
I’m immensely proud of this team, and I know you will continue to wow the world in my absence. I wish you all a wonderful holiday season and look forward to working together again in the new year.