John Lasseter
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Disney’s chief creative officer John Lasseter will officially leave his position over at Pixar and Walt Disney Animation by the end of the year.  Lasseter took a leave of absence last November after admitted “missteps” which made some employees feel “disrespected or uncomfortable.”  In an email to the company, he wrote that he was taking six months off “to start taking better care of myself, to recharge and be inspired, and ultimately return with the insight and perspective I need to be the leader you deserve.”

But it seems this sabbatical guided him in a different direction. In a new statement, Lasseter wrote:

“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 the opportunities to follow my creative passion at Disney.”

Disney chairman and CEO, Bob Iger, issued his own statement saying:

“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 contribution, 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’s leave of absence was announced just before a series of articles surfaced, chronicling his excessive drinking, and inappropriate behavior including giving 48 hugs a day to various staffers.  At the time, Lasseter wrote, “I deeply apologize if I have let you down. 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. No matter how benign my intent, everyone has the right to set their own boundaries and have them respected.”  (Not to make light, but a hug sounds pretty benign compared to other allegations that have been raised against other powerful Hollywood figures.)

Last year, Rashida Jones and Will McCormack dropped out of writing ‘Toy Story 4’ not due to unwanted advances, but because they felt that females and people of color were not given fair representation at Pixar.

Lasseter was one of the founders of Pixar, which innovated the entire animation art form.  He directed the classics ‘Toy Story’ and ‘Toy Story 2’.  Under his guidance, Pixar accumulated nine Academy Awards for Best Animated Long-Form and Walt Disney Animation has won three.

He will serve in an advisory position until the end of 2018.  Pete Docter (‘Inside Out’) will succeed him as CCO of Pixar, while Jennifer Lee (‘Frozen’) will take over Walt Disney Animation.  The next Pixar movie will be ‘The Incredible 2’ which arrives on June 15.  The next WDA movie is ‘Ralph Breaks the Internet’ on November 21.

What do you think about this changing of the guard?

Source: The Hollywood Reporter