Disney, News, Pixar

John Lasseter To Take Leave Of Absence Due To Misconduct Allegations

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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.

 

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About Pablo Ruiz

Pablo Ruiz is a Colombian filmmaker. Movies like Toy Story, The Lion King and Aladdin made him fall in love with the art form and now he hopes to dedicate his life to telling stories, hopefully for Pixar (if they go back to doing original films).

Some of his ambitions are making a movie as emotionally impacting as Toy Story 3, meeting JK Rowling, and petting a million dogs. Follow him on Twitter (@PabloRV7).

  • Jordan Briskin

    If I know John Lasseter (based on what I’ve learned about him), he would never have INTENTIONALLY done anything to make others feel uncomfortable; of course, I am glad that he has, at least, been honest and apologized for his actions. For that reason, I, for one, am willing to forgive him.

    I second your concern about how long his leave of absence will last; I have to admit, his influence on both Pixar and Walt Disney Animation has been palpable, and I’ve come to admire him for his contributions. That being said, until he comes back, he will be missed dearly…

    • Manuel Orozco

      I have your back Jordan

    • The thing is, you *don’t* know John Lasseter. The women who have worked with him and experienced this behavior do, and his actions are unacceptable.

  • Dante Panora

    The diversity issue is really important to talk about when they are making movies about different cultures. But Rashida leaving makes me wonder if they did anything offensive to other cultures. If it’s just a matter of statistically having most white people i don’t see what leaving will accomplish for anyone.

    • Jordan Briskin

      Nor do I, quite frankly…

  • Eh. While (judging from the reports) his behaviour isn’t nearly AS disgusting as certain other cases, and he apologised…it still really does go to show what how low the standard for acceptable behaviour has been set :/ Hopefully he’ll fully understand why whatever he did wasn’t acceptable and never do it again, but frankly my thoughts are with the women he made uncomfortable. Speaking from experience, coming into that kind of work environment is awful. Yes of course we can (and will in my case) still love the films, but at the end of the day art is for people, and the well being of people is more important.

    • Well said. It’s why I’m mixed on whether he should
      come back or not. He’s talented, but having a good
      work environment is ultimately more important.
      Perhaps, the Pixar staff should vote on whether he
      should stay or not.

  • Ranting Swede

    From the Hollywood Reporter article:
    “A longtime insider says he saw a woman seated next to Lasseter in a meeting that occurred more than 15 years ago. “She was bent over and [had her arm] across her thigh,” he says. “The best I can describe it is as a defensive posture … John had his hand on her knee, though, moving around.” After that encounter, this person asked the woman about what he had seen. “She said it was unfortunate for her to wear a skirt that day and if she didn’t have her hand on her own right leg, his hand would have traveled.”

    The same source said he once noticed an oddly cropped photo of Lasseter standing between two women at a company function. When he mentioned that to a colleague, he was told, “We had to crop it. Do you know where his hands were?””

    Ewwwwww, no. Seriously, wandering hands absolutely cannot be tolerated and especially, not at work.

    • Brooks Austin

      So how long has Disney and Pixar know about this and why did they wait so long to do something about it if this was something everyone seemed to know about?

      • According to this article, they have been aware of
        this since 2010. https://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/2017/11/disney-pixar-john-lasseter-leave-allegations

        • Brooks Austin

          Which of course begs the question about why Disney and Pixar waited until a decade later to do something about it and why they weren’t transparent and honest about it with their fans.

          • dlizsehshus

            Because thats been the culture dating back to when Walt Disney was running the studio. Its common in every entertainment studio not just Disney or Pixar. Women are always treated like crap. It does need to change.

            Although I don’t think Lasseter should lose his job. I would say this suspension is suffice. He should also attend a class to treat women differently.

  • Manuel Orozco

    I do hope Lasseter can be around until the day he dies. He is like the Walt Disney of the digital age by reinvigorating feature animation as we know it. Lasseter with his leadership and input brings equal sophistication and fun to both Disney Animation and Pixar. What he already left us is an original and enduring legacy!

    • That’s true, but it looks like he probably will not be
      coming back. The odds are 50-50 in my view.

      • Manuel Orozco

        Let’s just wait and see what happens when his six months are over. But if Pete Doctor takes over, that’s fine as long as Pixar can maintain its reputation as a studio in Hollywood.

        • I am sure Pixar will be fine no matter what. But as
          for Disney Animation, I’m not as sure. But yeah, I’ll
          wait-and-see as to whether any more allegations
          come out or if John really changes his ways. Like I
          said, him leaving is probably 50-50 and if he does
          end up going, I won’t feel sorry for him.

          • Manuel Orozco

            How it affects Disney animation is yet to be seen. It depends on how WIR 2 and Frozen 2 turn out which won’t be for a while.

    • PabloRuiz7

      I agree Lasseter is talented but I’d actually really welcome a change of leadership. Eisner was revolutionary for Disney but after a while it all started to decay and I feel the same has been happening with Pixar. Lasseter wasn’t innovating anymore.

      And more importantly, if he’s fostering a culture where women feel unsafe and apparently don’t feel like they’re heard, the sooner all of this changes, the better.

      • Manuel Orozco

        True since Eisner had his ups and downs with Disney during my early boyhood. If the Disney company in general can do fine without him, so can Pixar without Lasseter

        • dlizsehshus

          They didn’t do fine. It took them 20 years to get back to respectability after Walt died.

          • Manuel Orozco

            Didn’t think that way

      • dlizsehshus

        “Lasseter wasn’t innovating anymore”

        Really? Bolt, TPAF, Tangled, Winnie the Pooh, Wreck it Ralph, Frozen, Big Hero 6, Zootopia, and Moana all happened. When he was put in charge of Walt Disney Animation.

        What was Disney releasing before him? Oh yeah this https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/380f9a1f13592e141b8f4e4d16ed3079ed23f3bb80f6fa96f3d53c0f97ff9f5f.png

        • PabloRuiz7

          I’m not saying he was producing bad films. Or that he never innovated. He clearly changed Disney and gave them a second Renaissance. In fact, I led an analysis of each of those movies for this site which you can read if you search for Disney Revival Rundown.

          But after Tangled, I feel all Princess movies have followed the same template, without really adding anything new. The No Villain, Increasingly Progressive Protagonist thing hasn’t really changed. I’ll give you Zootopia, but that was conceived in 2012. Now that Coco is out, we won’t get a single original Disney animated movie for at least three years.

          Meanwhile in the last seven years Pixar has produced four original movies, only two of which have been worthy of the Pixar Pantheon. So I think he stopped innovating and settled for the safe and merchandisable long ago.

          • dlizsehshus

            I disagree 100%

            Your template complaint is laughable. So what if there are no villains? Its been a breath of fresh air in my book. The movies have focused more on the Protagonist and its made richer films in my book. Since we have full grown characters. Besides we’d have decades of over the top villains from Disney. Trying something different isn’t a negative.

            Eh sorry if you have a problem with
            progressive characters then you should only watch movies from the 40s. The worlds changed and progressive characters are part of it. Go back to your white washed cookie cutter characters.

            Unlike you I never had a problem with the sequels. Some have been great some have been ok. The effort for those movies is what I care about and the effort is there.

            As for Pixar making only two worthy Pixar Phanteon movies. I find it all ridiculous. First off every Pixar movie isn’t the greatest thing ever even in the studios beginning. A Bugs Life and Monsters Inc were okay films but not even close to being the greatest. But of course people have hyped them up so much that they are all the greatest.

            Which is the ridiculous part since every movie isn’t the greatest . Did Scorsese, Kubrick, Hitchcock make great films all the time? Nope. But that didn’t mean they weren’t trying and it sure didn’t mean they should be forced to stop.

            Oh and Pixar hasn’t failed yet, Brave and Good Dinosaur were better films than a Bugs Life and Monsters Inc btw. People like you seem to have outrageous standards for Pixar.

            Such as suggesting that Lasseter stopped innovating just because he made Two great original movies and two good original movies. Oh lets not forget the great movies at Disney too. Lol you know how many filmmakers would love to have that record.

            If you want to see what stopped innovating looked liked go look at the Disney movies after Katzenberg left. Now thats stopped innovating.

          • PabloRuiz7

            I think we have to get on the same page before we can keep our discussion going! First of all, I love most movies Disney has done under Lasseter. Tangled is my favorite Disney movie! Wreck-It-Ralph is extraordinary. Moana is so lovable.

            I love that protagonists are getting more progressive and that love interests aren’t a requirement. My favorite thing about Pixar was always that they valued friendship and thought it was worth telling stories about and with WIR and Moana, I was overjoyed to see Disney doing it too.

            I do miss the villains, because I love a good villain, but the movies work without them.

            But here’s my complaint: From 2007 to 2012, going to see a Pixar or Disney movie was incredibly exciting for me. Ratatouille, Wall-E, and Up were unlike anything I had ever seen in animated movies! They had long silent stretches, sophisticated storytelling, and they all felt so NEW.

            Then Tangled came out and introduced Disney’s classic movie to the 21st Century. An extraordinary movie. WIR was even more exciting, it felt like nothing Disney had ever done.

            And since then? Well. I’ve only felt that way with Inside Out and Coco. Nothing else has felt new. I really enjoyed Frozen and Moana. I was kinda bored by Finding Dory and The Good Dinosaur, but I wouldn’t call them bad movies. But they’re certainly not as exciting as Wall-E or WIR. They don’t bring anything new to the table.

            Lasseter was as good as a creative chief officer as you can be while creating an environment in which apparently women felt unsafe. The movies used to be exciting and daring and great. And now they’re just safe and good.

            It’s what always happens. Someone is successful through daring and innovative ways and then they get put in charge and they grow complacent. They start coming back to what made them famous. Ridley Scott has done it, Peter Jackson has done it, Spielberg has done it. Everyone does it. It’s fine.

            But in my opinion, when you start doing that and you’re in charge of a studio, you step down. And let someone else have a run and doing things. I think that’s true of anyone in charge. No one can keep innovating and being the right fit for over a decade. Not a president, not a CEO, not a studio chief. So you bring someone new. To add a new POV, new ideas, new ways of doing things.

            Because Disney has been flawless since 2008. Pixar is always consistent. But Disney hasn’t made anything that feels revolutionary in five years. And Pixar used to do that every year and they’ve done it twice in seven years now. And I trust they can do better.

          • dlizsehshus

            More ridiculous statements.

            I don’t agree with you one bit. I don’t agree that Pixar has grown complacent their still making excellent films and putting in the full effort. Their films are just judged harder than before because of peoples high standards. Expecting them to pull of the run they had with Wall:E, Up, Incredibles etc is impossible. Especially since two of those directors have done other projects outside Pixar. Circumstances happen.

            Also suggesting that someone step down because their making good films but not as good as their best is just a dumb idea period. Thats like getting rid of a head coach on a Sports Team because he got his team in the Playoffs but didn’t win a Championship.

            Losing a leader when the company is performing very well never works. It didn’t work for Disney when Walt died, it didn’t work for Disney when Katzenberg was fired, it also hasn’t worked well for Apple when Steve Jobs passed away.

          • PabloRuiz7

            Well, we’re clearly not agreeing so might as well stop the conversation. I do hold Pixar to a higher standard. If you’re capable of producing Ratatouille, Wall-E, Up, and Toy Story 3 in consecutive years you SHOULD be held to a higher standard. You can’t make Finding Dory and The Good Dinosaur and expect people to love them as much as they loved The Incredibles.

            To stick with the sports team metaphor, if my team wins the championship four years in a row and then for almost a decade they just make the playoffs and go out without really trying in the first round, I would 100% change head coaches.

            But you disagree on that. Which is perfectly fine. I still think Lasseter has to go if the environment he was creating was unpleasant for half the employees.

          • dlizsehshus

            Bull if the best directors like Scorsese or Kubrick aren’t held to that type of high standards. Then why should Pixar. These are the guys that made 2001, Raging Bull, Clockwork Orange, Goodfellas etc. Yet they made some ok films in between. I didn’t see anyone saying they shouldn’t direct anymore because of that.

            Lol your view on sports makes no sense just like most of your opinions. Pixar has been trying. They haven’t lost in the first round. Most of their films have been nominated or won for Oscars. You make it sound like they are Blue Sky. Who make ok films but aren’t trying to be the best. Now thats a studio that fits your description. Lasseter is Tom Brady or Michael Jordan. Didn’t see any of their teams trying get rid of them just because they fell short of championships once in a while.

          • PabloRuiz7

            It’s really not fun to have a conversation when you keep saying my opinions don’t make sense. Your opinions make sense. I disagree with them but they’re perfectly reasonable. Can you really not make sense of my opinions that Disney and Pixar are not as daring and innovative as they used to be? When all they’re releasing for the next three years are sequels? That’s by definition not innovative.

            Also, Spielberg and Kubrick ARE held to a higher standard. If anyone else had made Bridge of Spies it would’ve been hailed as one of the best movies of that year, but for a Spielberg movie it was “only okay”. When you prove you’re capable of genius in a consistent manner and you’re a game changer, I think it’s normal that more is expected of you.

            Like if you win 6 Best Animated Feature Academy Awards in a decade and then in the next seven years you only win twice and most of your movies aren’t even nominated, that’s worrying.

          • dlizsehshus

            Because it doesn’t make sense. I call it how I see it. Maybe if you start making sense I will agree with you.

            Nope I can’t agree. Because I haven’t seen it happen yet. Making some films that aren’t nearly as good as your best doesn’t mean you aren’t trying or innovating. You sound like one of those parents that yell at their kids for getting an A- on their report card.

            As for sequels to you it may not be innovative. It will never bother me. Because Sequels are more difficult to get right than original movies. They are competing against the orginal film and heavy expectations. But they’re still have been many sequels that are better than the original. Also Movies have been doing it since the beginning. Heck books do sequels all the time. Tv shows do sequels all the time. “This is Us” one of the best tv shows today. I don’t see anyone whining and moaning that they aren’t innovating anymore just because they are doing a second season which is a sequel. Btw Pixar has made 4 sequels that are better than the original(Toy Story 2and 3, Monsters University, and Cars 3. So they’ve earned the benefit of the doubt as far as sequels go in my opinion.

            Would you stop bringing up Spielberg. I haven’t mentioned him once. He makes entertainmening films but no where close to the best. He isn’t even the best of his generation heck not even top three. That honor goes to Marty Scorsese the guy you keep replacing with Spielberg for some reason.

            As for Kubrick he was never held to a higher standard. When he made Barry Lyndon I didn’t see anybody telling him isn’t innovating or trying anymore. People just told him it was not as good as his other films and moved on.

            No thats reality. Competition gets stronger. Btw who has been beating Pixar consistently the last seven years? Oh its Walt Disney Animation. Which was led by who? Oh yeah John Lasseter. So he’s been competing and beating himself lol. Oh look one of your opinions stopped making sense again.

          • PabloRuiz7

            “Lasseter hasn’t been innovating for a while”

            “The movies he makes are good, your opinion makes no sense”

            That’s been us for a while now. So let’s change this up. How have Disney and Pixar been innovating this decade? I’m not being snarky or anything, I want to hear your opinion on what they’ve been trying out, what new things they’ve brought to the table.

            (I mention Spielberg because he’s my favorite. Jaws, Raiders, Jurassic Park, Catch Me If You Can, Bridge of Spies, I’m just a sucker for the guy. That’s why I brought him up =) )

          • dlizsehshus

            Well maybe if you actually back up your claims instead just saying the same thing over and over. Thinking the results is going to be different some how. I’ve backed up my talk with facts so I’ve done my part. Its not my fault you can’t come up with a convincing argument.

            They’ve innovated plenty. Their animation is still top notch and groundbreaking with every film. Their storytelling and character development in each of their films have improved tremendously from before. Which was weak spot for them in their earlier films. Best examples of this is what they have done with the fairytale princess narrative that became tiresome during the Renaissance. With Brave, Tangled, Frozen, and Moana they broke the standard Princess Tropes and made actually fully grown characters with new fresh story beats. Same could be said with Monsters University and Cars 3. MU is a big improvement from Inc because of the focus and development of Mike who was so obnoxious in the first film that he nearly sunked the movie. Mike becomes fully formed character in MU and erases the mistakes of the character in the first film. Ditto with Lightning Mcqueen in the Cars 3. Not even going to bring up Big Hero 6, Zootopia, Inside Out, and Coco. People already know how amazing those films are. So there, Did I Adequately Answer Your Condescending Question?

            Last time I checked we were talking about the actual Best directors. Not favorites.

  • What really pissed me off was how he used “an unwanted hug” as an example of how he’s made the women in the studio uncomfortable. Like he was in trouble for being too nice instead of groping and kissing women without their consent.

    • PabloRuiz7

      Or how if you read the entire statement he says he’ll use the leave of absence to recharge. Makes it sound like he’s just taking a vacation, not thinking about how he makes women feel. Unacceptable.

  • I was in shock when I read the news about this. I
    didn’t think him of all people would be caught up in
    this scandal. I respected Lasseter a ton for all the
    work he has done for animation. The man is simply
    a legend. I’m happy that he at least admitted that
    he did inappropriate things and hopefully he can
    learn from his mistakes during his leave of absence.

    As far as the future goes, it appears so far that he
    didn’t do anything that approached the level of all
    the other people in Hollywood who were accused
    or admitted to sexual misconduct. If Lasseter comes
    back, then I hope he has changed. If he gets fired
    or resigns, I won’t feel sorry for him. Pete Doctor is
    a terrific director and I’m sure that if he takes over
    as leader of Disney/ Pixar, both studios be just fine.

  • I mean at least it’s not as bad as the other stories coming out but it really breaks my heart that an animation giant like Lasseter is now part of the current allegation discussion…. :/

    • Frank Coufal

      I am disheartened as well.

  • Jeremiah

    Ewww. I really felt like the animation fandom was exempt from all this. There’s something innocent about animation. We know behind the scenes things sometimes get racy but not, we hope, immoral. And John Lasseter, nooo. He’s today’s Walt Disney. I’s sad. I don’t know. I’d need to read the specifics. Sometimes mend and women kiss briefly and affectionately just to be old fashioned and friendly. And in the film world, you never know when somebody’s going to use anything they can to sue you and get rich. I don’t know. This is the kind of thing that is probably true, but I truly hope it’s not. Still, nothing goes to your head like power.

  • Ranting Swede

    https://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/2017/11/john-lasseter-sexual-misconduct-pixar-fairies

    “In addition to the charges in Deadline, a source recently told Vanity Fair about a phone call among Disney and Pixar execs following an incident in 2010, in which Lasseter allegedly French kissed and groped a former Disney employee. “The subject of the phone call,” said the source, was, “‘Shit, what are we going to do about John?’”

    “Lasseter is the crazy-horny 13-year-old who you have to keep in check all the time,” the source continued. “But there’s no No. 2 for John. He’s the beating heart of Disney Animation and Pixar. He’s a genius. Nobody can do what he does.”

    “He’s very tactile in a weird way,” a former female executive told Deadline. “He would rub my leg in a meeting . . . It was creepy and weird. It got to the point where I wouldn’t sit next to him in a meeting, because it undermined everything I said.””

    Ugh. Take retirement, John, because no amount of genius justifies you remaining employed after treating women’s bodies like your personal touch museum. Also, anonymous Disney exec, you are terrible.

  • oh my god….this is so disappointing….