Sad news in the animation world: John Lasseter, Chief Creative Officer at both Disney and Pixar, has announced he’s taking a six month sabbatical after several women came forward with stories about his recurrent misconduct. The Hollywood Reporter detailed the claims of several employees who chose to remain anonymous who said that Lasseter was known for “grabbing, kissing, and making comments about physical attributes.”. The Cars director issued a memo to employees earlier today in which he acknowledged several painful conversations and unspecified “missteps” leading to his temporary departure.
The news come in the middle of an avalanche of women coming forward in all corners of Hollywood, exposing the ugly culture that permeates the filmmaking world. Although not confirmed, the stories women tell about Lasseter are extremely common and sadly too easy to believe. It’s worth nothing the Hollywood Reporter originally reported Rashida Jones and her writing partner Will McCormack had left Toy Story 4 when Jones was the victim of an unwanted approach, but she has since come out and denied the allegation, saying she left the project due to “philosophical differences”, citing a culture where women and people of color do not have an equal voice as reasons for her departure. That is a whole other topic worth exploring.
As for now, all we can do is wait to see what Disney does and if Lasseter’s absence will become permanent. Cartoon Brew notes that an employee suggested Pete Docter might take charge at Pixar. Having directed Monsters, Inc, Up, and Inside Out Docter is a strong candidate who clearly understand the magic of Pixar and who would hopefully make an effort to make all artists feel heard, valued, and safe at the studio, regardless of gender or race.