John Lasseter leaving Disney

John Lasseter‘s days at Disney are coming to an end. Last year, sexual misconduct allegations against the Chief Creative Officer of Pixar Animation Studios, Walt Disney Animation Studios and DisneyToon Studios lead to Lasseter taking a leave of absence. Recently, rumors surfaced that Disney might bring Lasseter back in a limited role. Now, word comes that Lasseter will leave Disney by December 31, 2018.

The Hollywood Reporter, The New York Times, and others are reporting that John Lasseter, a major creative force at both Pixar and Disney, will be stepping down for good by the end of 2018. In November of 2017, word broke of possible sexual misconduct allegations against Lasseter. Lasseter himself sent an memo in which he acknowledged “missteps” and said that he might have made coworkers feel “disrespected or uncomfortable.” Lasseter took a leave of absence, and almost immediately after,  THR posted a follow-up article that alleged sexual misconduct on Lasseter’s part, including “grabbing, kissing, making comments about physical attributes.”

All was quiet on the Lasseter front for a few months. Then, in May 2018, a rumor surfaced that Disney was considering bringing Lasseter back in a “limited role.” The Wall Street Journal reported that executives at Walt Disney Co. had discussed allowing Lasseter to return at the end of his leave, May 21. This rumor wasn’t entirely unfounded, as the latest THR story says Lasseter will have “a consulting role with the company through Dec. 31.” The New York Times adds:

Disney said on Friday that Mr. Lasseter — the co-founder of Pixar Animation Studios who has long been one of Disney’s most important creative executives, serving as a force behind the “Toy Story,” “Cars” and “Frozen” franchises — would take on a consulting role at the company until the end of the year and then leave permanently. He will not have an office in the interim.

“I’ve recently had a number of difficult conversations that have been very painful for me,” Lasseter said in his memo last year. “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.”

Disney has yet to announce a permanent replacement for Lasseter, but Jennifer Lee, director of Frozen, and Pete Docter, director of Inside Out, are both expected to take on increased responsibilities – with Lee handling Disney Animation duties and Docter handling Pixar.

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