Disney/Pixar boss John Lasseter is taking a leave of absence from the animation company after apologizing for “missteps” he has made with staff in the past.
The news comes as the filmmaker becomes the latest Hollywood power player linked to a sexual misconduct scandal currently sweeping through Hollywood.
He allegedly made an “unwanted advance” on actress Rashida Jones and has a history of kissing and touching female staffers, according to a new article published by The Hollywood Reporter.
The story has prompted the Oscar winner to temporarily step down as Chief Creative Officer of Walt Disney and Pixar Animation Studios.
In a memo sent to staff on Tuesday (21Nov17) and obtained by Deadline.com, Lasseter announced he’s taking a six-month sabbatical, while apologizing 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”.
The remarks emerge a month and a half after Hollywood’s sordid side was first exposed by The New York Times in a piece detailing Harvey Weinstein’s alleged sexual harassment and abuse. The scandal cost the disgraced movie mogul his position as a board member at his The Weinstein Company production firm.
Brett Ratner, director James Toback, Jeremy Piven, Kevin Spacey, and others have also been accused of sexual misconduct in recent weeks.
In the memo, Lasseter also writes: “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.”
The revered animator reveals he has had “a number of difficult conversations that have been very painful for me”, adding, “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.”
A statement from Disney reads: “We are committed to maintaining an environment in which all employees are respected and empowered to do their best work. We appreciate John’s candor and sincere apology and fully support his sabbatical.”
Lasseter directed Toy Story in 1995, A Bug’s Life, Toy Story 2, Cars and Cars 2, and he has executive produced all Pixar features since 2001’s Monsters, Inc.
His hiatus news comes a day before the release of Pixar’s latest movie, Coco.
– Cover Media0