It’s believed Disney CEO Bob Iger is preparing to move on from Pixar Chief Creative Officer John Lasseter as the filmmaker nears the end of his six-month leave of absence. Last fall, Lasseter was one of many Hollywood figures accused of sexual misconduct, and the filmmaker acknowledged “missteps” he made in a memo announcing his sabbatical. Among the allegations, it was reported Lasseter was notorious for kissing, grabbing, and making inappropriate comments about women, which caused many employees to feel uncomfortable. In the time since the story first broke, many have wondered if Lasseter would return to Pixar, or if the animation studio would move on from him for good.
For an entire generation, Lasseter was the face of Disney Animation. As one of the main creative forces at Pixar, he oversaw hits such as Toy Story, Monsters, Inc., and Finding Nemo. Following Disney’s acquisition of Pixar, Lasseter helped their floundering in-house animation department reclaim its former glory with Oscar-winning blockbusters like Frozen and Zootopia. There’s no denying Lasseter has made an enormous impact in the industry, but it looks like Disney and Pixar are about to begin a new era without him.
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THR recently published another article detailing Lasseter’s troubling behavior at Pixar, and the outlet’s sources think Iger is about to cut Lasseter. As an anonymous Disney veteran told THR, “Bob is about keeping peace in the family. He’s not anxious to take on defending somebody with that kind of reputation.” Lasseter’s leave of absence will be finished in May, so this is a decision Iger is going to have to make in the very near future.
It shouldn’t come as any surprise this is the case. For starters, welcoming Lasseter back to the company now would be an unmitigated PR disaster for Disney, sending out a disastrous message in the era of #MeToo and #TimesUp. In the aftermath of the Harvey Weinstein scandal, Hollywood is trying to change their established culture, and reinstating Lasseter into a position of power over others would directly contradict with those goals. Additionally, THR notes that several workers at Pixar felt “bullied” and “belittled” by Lasseter (particularly after the death of Joe Ranft), so there would be a general sense of unhappiness if he were to come back. That conceivably would have a domino effect, causing many other employees to leave while diminishing the appeal of working at Pixar to outsiders. Pixar is one of Disney’s biggest assets, so Iger will do all he can to keep the machine running smoothly. The last thing anyone wants is a major controversy.
As for who will take Lasseter’s positions, a possibility for Pixar is Pete Docter, one of the studio’s most accomplished filmmakers. His credits include Monsters, Inc., Up, and Inside Out. Docter’s fellow Oscar winners Rich Moore (Zootopia) and Jennifer Lee (Frozen) are thought to be in consideration for the new heads of Disney Animation. As indicated above, viewers should expect announcements to be made on these fronts soon, with Lasseter’s six months almost up.
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