John Lasseter Comeback

Outcry exploded following John Lasseter‘s hiring at Skydance Animation a year after the animation magnate stepped down from his roles at Disney and Pixar in the wake of unspecified sexual harassment allegations. Lasseter stepped into the role of chief at Skydance Animation merely nine days after his contract expired with Disney, which many in the industry saw as too little time for Lasseter to be held accountable for his actions.

Lasseter and Skydance CEO David Ellison turned to a town hall to address the concerns of the employees at Skydance Animation, many of whom were just as unhappy with the decision to hire the animation guru in a high-profile role at their company. However, it may not be enough for the Paramount staff working with Skydance for one of its first feature films.

Ellis and Lasseter held a town hall meeting at Skydance’s Los Angeles headquarters on Monday aimed at addressing the discomfort and concerns of employees who were anxious of Lasseter’s allegations of sexual harassment that cost him his job at Disney, according to Variety.

At the town hall, Variety noted that Lasseter “fielded blunt questions, many of them from younger female employees on the team, about how he will behave in his new role, an individual with knowledge of the meeting said.” During the hour-and-a-half town hall, Lasseter seemed compliant, admitting to his wrongdoing and assuring that he was committed to proving he had reformed.

Lasseter told the team at Skydance Animation (via Deadline):

“I am deeply sorry for my actions, which were unquestionably wrong. I very much regret making women feel unsafe or disrespected. I will continue to work every day for the rest of my life to prove to you that I have grown and learned. I am resolute in my commitment to build an animation studio upon a foundation of equality, safety, trust and mutual respect for everyone.”

Lasseter had stepped down from his position running Pixar and Walt Disney Animation in November of 2017, acknowledging “missteps.” While no official allegations or claims were filed against him, reportedly out of fear of being blacklisted in the animation community, a The Hollywood Reporter piece described an environment where the Toy Story director was “well-known for hugging employees and others in the entertainment community, was also known by insiders for ‘grabbing, kissing, making comments about physical attributes.’”

However, it seems that the town hall may not have abated the concerns of everyone in the animation community working with Skydance. According to THR, the chief of Paramount Animation Mirielle Soria reassured her team that they will no longer be working with Skydance Animation in the wake of Lasseter’s hiring. Soria’s team had been “providing notes” for one of Skydance’s first two feature projects, Luck, an animated comedy set for a 2021 release, but the Paramount Animation chief said that in order to maintain a safe working environment, she would be withdrawing her staff from the project.

At the town hall meeting, Soria said that she had been shocked and “furious,” at Lasseter’s hiring, according to THR, echoing the sentiments of the Time’s Up organization that argued his new high-profile position “endorses and perpetuates a broken system that allows powerful men to act without consequence.”

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