“Rashida Jones is still credited as a writer on Toy Story 4, the next installment in the beloved franchise,” Kim Masters reports for The Hollywood Reporter.
“”But, sources tell The Hollywood Reporter, the actress and her writing partner at the time, Will McCormack, left the project early on after John Lasseter, the acclaimed head of Pixar and Walt Disney Animation, made an unwanted advance,” Masters reports.
“One longtime Pixar employee says Lasseter, who is well-known for hugging employees and others in the entertainment community, was also known by insiders for ‘grabbing, kissing, making comments about physical attributes.’ Multiple sources say Lasseter is known to drink heavily at company social events such as premiere parties, but this source says the behavior was not always confined to such settings,” Masters reports. “Now Lasseter is taking a leave of absence from Pixar after acknowledging ‘painful’ conversations and unspecified ‘missteps,’ he wrote in a memo to staff on Tuesday.”
MacDailyNews Note: “In a statement to The New York Times, Ms. Jones and Mr. McCormack said their departure was tied to Pixar’s general treatment of female and minority employees,” Brooks Barnes reports for The New York Times. “‘The breakneck speed at which journalists have been naming the next perpetrator renders some reporting irresponsible,’ they said. ‘We did not leave Pixar because of unwanted advances. That is untrue. We parted ways because of creative and, more importantly, philosophical differences.'”
“‘There is so much talent at Pixar, and we remain enormous fans of their films,’ they continued. ‘However, it is also a culture where women and people of color do not have an equal creative voice,'” Barnes reports. “Ms. Jones and Mr. McCormack concluded the statement by saying: ‘We encourage Pixar to be leaders in bolstering, hiring and promoting more diverse and female storytellers and leaders. We hope we can encourage all those who have felt like their voices could not be heard in the past to feel empowered.'”
“It is hard to overstate Lasseter’s value to Disney. He is known as the genius behind Pixar films from Toy Story to Inside Out to Coco, opening Nov. 22. He took charge of Walt Disney Animation in 2006 and led a revival that included such gigantic hits as Frozen,” Masters reports. “Sources say some women at Pixar knew to turn their heads quickly when encountering him to avoid his kisses. Some used a move they called ‘the Lasseter’ to prevent their boss from putting his hands on their legs.”
“A longtime insider says he saw a woman seated next to Lasseter in a meeting that occurred more than 15 years ago. ‘She was bent over and [had her arm] across her thigh,’ he says,” Masters reports. “‘The best I can describe it is as a defensive posture … John had his hand on her knee, though, moving around.’ After that encounter, this person asked the woman about what he had seen. ‘She said it was unfortunate for her to wear a skirt that day and if she didn’t have her hand on her own right leg, his hand would have traveled.'”
“The same source said he once noticed an oddly cropped photo of Lasseter standing between two women at a company function,” Masters reports. “When he mentioned that to a colleague, he was told, ‘We had to crop it. Do you know where his hands were?'”
Read more in the full article here.
MacDailyNews Note: Lasseter’s memo to employees, verbatim:
I have always wanted our animation studios to be places where creators can explore their vision with the support and collaboration of other gifted animators and storytellers. This kind of creative culture takes constant vigilance to maintain. It’s built on trust and respect, and it becomes fragile if any members of the team don’t feel valued. As a leader, it’s my responsibility to ensure that doesn’t happen; and I now believe I have been falling short in this regard.
I’ve recently had a number of difficult conversations that have been very painful for me. It’s never easy to face your missteps, but it’s the only way to learn from them. As a result, I’ve been giving a lot of thought to the leader I am today compared to the mentor, advocate and champion I want to be. It’s been brought to my attention that I have made some of you feel disrespected or uncomfortable. That was never my intent. Collectively, you mean the world to me, and 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.
In my conversations with Disney, we are united in our commitment to always treat any concerns you have with the seriousness they deserve, and to address them in an appropriate manner. We also share a desire to reinforce the vibrant, respectful culture that has been the foundation of our studios’ success since the beginning. And we agree the first step in that direction is for me to take some time away to reflect on how to move forward from here. As hard as it is for me to step away from a job I am so passionate about and a team I hold in the highest regard, not just as artists but as people, I know it’s the best thing for all of us right now. My hope is that a six-month sabbatical will give me the opportunity 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.
I’m immensely proud of this team, and I know you will continue to wow the world in my absence. I wish you all a wonderful holiday season and look forward to working together again in the new year.
We are committed to maintaining an environment in which all employees are respected and empowered to do their best work. We appreciate John’s candor and sincere apology and fully support his sabbatical.
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Report: Steve Jobs signed off on Pixar deal with backdated options for Lasseter – February 10, 2007
Disney completes Pixar acquisition; Steve Jobs now Disney’s single largest shareholder – May 5, 2006
It’s official: Disney acquires Pixar for $7.4 billion, Steve Jobs joins Disney Board of Directors – January 24, 2006