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June 19, 2019

Ousted Pixar head John Lasseter joins Skydance Media after ‘missteps’ at Disney

January 9, 2019
John Lasseter will head Skydance Animation. (VALERIE MACON / AFP/Getty Images)

Former Pixar and Disney Animation head John Lasseter has a new gig, more than a year after accusations of sexual misconduct forced him out of his cushy position at Disney.

Skydance, the television and film production company behind movies like “True Grit” and “Mission: Impossible – Fallout,” announced Wednesday Lasseter has joined the team as head of Skydance Animation.

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The news was announced by CEO David Ellison, who said in an internal memo that the company did not enter “into this decision lightly” following Lasseter’s Disney ouster, and that, based on an investigation, believed he had “learned valuable lessons.”

“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,” Lasseter said in a statement. “It has been humbling, but I believe it will make me a better leader.”

The 61-year-old animation legend revealed in November 2017 he was taking a six-month leave of absence from Disney after facing unspecific “missteps” he’d made as head honcho.

“It’s been brought to my attention that I have made some of you feel disrespected or uncomfortable. That was my never my intent,” he said in a statement at the time. “I especially want to apologize 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.”

Multiple former employees told The Hollywood Reporter that Lasseter’s unwanted touching and excessive drinking at company events was well-known among staffers.

Though Lasseter expressed an interest in returning to Disney once the six months was up, he announced in April that he’d step down at year’s end.

“The last six months have provided an opportunity to reflect on my life, career and personal priorities,” he said in a statement. “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.”

Ellison’s memo Wednesday addressed Lasseter’s “admitted mistakes,” and said Skydance employed outside counsel to “thoroughly investigate” allegations against him.

“John has been forthright in taking ownership of his behavior, apologized for this actions and has spent the past year on sabbatical analyzing and improving his workplace behavior,” Ellison said in the memo, which was obtained by The Hollywood Reporter.

“Let me be clear: We have not entered into this decision lightly. While we would never minimize anyone’s subjective views on behavior, we are confident after many substantive conversations with John, and as the investigation has affirmed, that his mistakes have been recognized.”

Skydance’s animation department was launched in 2017, and its first feature film, “Luck,” is slated for release in 2021.

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