Disney Pixar mastermind John Lasseter has found a new home at Skydance Animation, but the announcement is already being denounced across Hollywood.
In late 2017 Lasseter took a leave of absence from Pixar following allegations of inappropriate conduct towards women. The following June, he officially left the studio.
One would have expected Lasseter to disappear from Hollywood after being pushed out of Disney, but he’s already back at work. On Wednesday, Skydance announced that Lasseter had been tapped to lead their animation department.
“John is a singular creative and executive talent whose impact on the animation industry cannot be overstated,” said Skydance CEO David Ellison. “He was responsible for leading animation into the digital age, while telling incomparable stories that continue to inspire and entertain audiences around the globe.”
Ellison also noted allegations leveled against Lasseter at Pixar. “John has acknowledged and apologized for his mistakes and, during the past year away from the workplace, has endeavored to address and reform them.”
In a memo to employees, Ellison said Skydance hired an outside group to investigate allegations. “Let me be clear: we have not entered into this decision lightly,” he told his staff.
Added Lasseter, “I have spent the last year away from the industry in deep reflection, learning how my actions unintentionally made colleagues uncomfortable, which I deeply regret and apologize for. It has been humbling, but I believe it will make me a better leader.”
Reactions to Lasseter’s hiring came swiftly. The Time’s Up organization issued a statement denouncing the hiring, noting that this decision “condone’s abuse.”
“Skydance Media’s decision to hire John Lasseter as head of animation endorses and perpetuates a broken system that allows powerful men to act without consequence. At a moment when we should be uplifting the many talented voices who are consistently underrepresented, Skydance Media is providing another position of power, prominence and privilege to a man who has repeatedly been accused of sexual harassment in the workplace,” the organization stated.
“People often ask when a man who has abused his power ‘gets’ to ‘come back.’ There is no simple answer. But here are a few first steps: 1) Demonstrate true remorse. 2) Work deeply to reform your behavior. 3) Deliver restitution to those you harmed. That’s the bare minimum. Hiring decisions have consequences. And offering a high-profile position to an abuser who has yet to do any of those things is condoning abuse.”
Skydance Animation formed in 2017. Their first film is called Luck, co-produced by Paramount and Nickelodeon, and it arrives in March 2021.