John Lasseter is Leaving Disney Because He's Reportedly Not Welcome Back
Six months ago, the most powerful man in the animation industry, John Lasseter, took a leave of absence from his Chief Creative Officer position at Walt Disney Animation Studios due to sexual harassment claims. In a statement, he apologized for what he called, "unwanted hugs".
The HR department at Disney was being flooded with sexual harassment allegations against Lasseter after the whole Harvey Weinstein drama started unfolding. Lasseter is said to have had "a reputation for touching women inappropriately in the office, including rubbing their legs and kissing them on the lips. Lasseter was also reprimanded for making out with a subordinate at an Oscar party in 2010."
Lasseter hoped that he would be able to return to his position after six months, during which Disney would conduct an internal investigation and reflect on how they will move forward. Well, Lasseter will not be welcomed back, and Lasseter will be officially leaving the company at the end of the year.
I'm not surprised. After what Disney did with Roseanne, there's no way they are going to tolerate this kind of behavior at the studio. According to Variety, "Over the last two weeks, many in the animation community have urged Disney to oust Lasseter for good. Social media users adopted the tag #LoseLasseter. Though Lasseter was executive producer of “Incredibles 2,” he did not appear at the film’s premiere on Tuesday."
Disney issued a statement saying that Lasseter will be a consultant for the company until December 31st. That statement, however, did not acknowledge the reasons for Lasseter’s departure, nor did it give any indication that the company investigated his conduct. But people with common sense know why he's leaving. Disney is just trying to do it as cleanly as possible. CEO Bob Iger says:
"John had a remarkable tenure at Pixar and Disney Animation, reinventing the animation business, taking breathtaking risks, and telling original, high quality stories that will last forever,. We are profoundly grateful for his contributions, which included a masterful and remarkable turnaround of The Walt Disney Animation Studios. One of John’s greatest achievements is assembling a team of great storytellers and innovators with the vision and talent to set the standard in animation for generations to come."
Lasseter made a statement of his own, saying:
"The last six months have provided an opportunity to reflect on my life, career and personal priorities. While I remain dedicated to the art of animation and inspired by the creative talent at Pixar and Disney, I have decided the end of this year is the right time to begin focusing on new creative challenges. I am extremely proud of what two of the most important and prolific animation studios have achieved under my leadership and I’m grateful for all of the opportunities to follow my creative passion at Disney."
It's interesting how they are spinning this and making no mention of why he is really leaving. Disney has been very careful with this, obviously because they don't want it to tarnish their family brand. According to Deadline, sources make it clear that Lasseter wasn't welcome back. "There was a gathering sense that the employees didn’t really want Lasseter to return. Some even threatened to quit."
There was even a petition started on Change.org demanding that he didn't return, saying:
"If Lasseter is allowed to return, it is not only an insult to the current contributions of hundreds of employees that contribute more to the company’s success, but also will demonstrate that such behavior will be tolerated by Disney-Pixar. Lasseter’s return would be a direct dismissal of those he has hurt, and his continued presence would contribute to an unsafe environment of mistrust."
Women in Animation President Marge Dean also offered the following statement recently:
"'Misconduct' is no longer tolerated in the work place and the safety of all employees has become a priority for our industry. Women in Animation supports and celebrates that change with the expectation that it will encourage retention of women in the animation workforce."
Apparently, Lasseter will not have an office at the studio during his final days at Disney. Because it "would be uncomfortable with Lasseter’s continued employment at the studio." One Disney employee said:
"It feels very weird he can stay on payroll for the next six or seven months. They do know there’s a problem. It doesn’t feel like a great compromise."
There's no announcement on who will replace Lasseter in the CCO role, but according to inside sources, it may end up being either Jennifer Lee, the writer and director of the hit film Frozen, or Pete Doctor, the director of Inside Out and Up.
What do you all think about Lasseter and Disney parting ways, What are your thoughts on how Disney handled the whole thing?