John Lasseter joins Skydance Media after leaving Disney following misconduct allegations

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Posted: Jan 10, 2019 7:20 AM
Updated: Jan 10, 2019 7:20 AM

John Lasseter, the former Disney Animation chief who left the company after he was accused of sexual misconduct, has found a new job.

Lasseter will lead the animation arm of Skydance Media, the company announced on Wednesday.

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Skydance CEO David Ellison said that the company "did not enter into this decision lightly."

"John has acknowledged and apologized for his mistakes and, during the past year away from the workplace, has endeavored to address and reform them," Ellison said.

Lasseter said he spent the last year away from the industry in "deep reflection," learning how his actions "unintentionally made colleagues uncomfortable, which I deeply regret and apologize for."

"I am resolute in my commitment to build an animation studio upon a foundation of quality, safety, trust and mutual respect," he said.

Ellison said in a note to colleagues that the company employed outside counsel to "thoroughly investigate the allegations."

"We are certain that John has learned valuable lessons and is ready to prove his capabilities as a leader and a colleague," he added. "And he has given his assurance that he will comport himself in a wholly professional manner that is the expectation of every Skydance colleague and partner."

Time's Up, the anti-harassment movement founded by women in Hollywood, condemned Lasseter's hiring.

"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," Time's Up said in a statement on Wednesday. "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."

Lasseter, who was one of the biggest names in animation as the chief creative officer of Pixar and Disney Animation, took a leave of absence in November 2017 saying in an internal memo that it was "brought to my attention that I have made some of you feel disrespected or uncomfortable."

Lasseter's statement was made on the same day that The Hollywood Reporter, who first reported Lasseter's memo, published a story with the headline "John Lasseter's pattern of alleged misconduct detailed by Disney/Pixar insiders."

The report quotes an unnamed Pixar employee as saying Lasseter had a reputation among employees "for grabbing, kissing, making comments about physical attributes."

In the memo, he apologized 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," he said at the time. He announced last summer that he would leave Disney at the end of 2018.

Skydance said that Lasseter will set the overall strategy and creative direction of Skydance Animation, which was formed in 2017. Skydance Media is a production company behind hits such as "Mission: Impossible -- Fallout" and Amazon's "Jack Ryan."

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