John Lasseter, head of Disney/Pixar Animations has reportedly taken a leave of absence after numerous allegations of misconduct toward employees and industry insiders, including Rashida Jones.
UPDATE: Rashida Jones denies that she left Toy Story 4 over unwanted advances from John Lasseter. Instead, she told Variety that she left over “philosophical differences”.
John Lasseter, 60, the head of Disney/Pixar animations has taken a leave of absence from the company after sources tell The Hollywood Reporter that he made an “unwanted advance” toward Rashida Jones, 41 — who is named as a writer on the 4th installment of Toy Story. As a result, Rashida and her writing partner, Will McCormick, 43, have reportedly backed out of the project, despite still being credited on the project. THR reports that Disney declined their request for comment, however, a studio source told the site that Rashida and McCormick’s departure was over “creative differences.” HollywoodLife.com reached out to Pixar, and they gave us the following statement:
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.
Former Pixar sources, as well as those in the animation community tell THR that the alleged incident with Rashida was not the first time Lasseter allegedly acted out. A longtime employee of Pixar alleges Lasseter is known for hugging employees and others in the entertainment business, as well as, “grabbing, kissing, [and] making comments about physical attributes.” Numerous insiders allege that Lassester is a heavy drinker at company outings, including premiere parties. However, his alleged actions aren’t limited to just company settings, as reported by the site.
Now, a source alleges that Lasseter has taken a leave of absence — for six months — from Pixar after recognizing “painful” conversations and unspecified “missteps,” he penned in a letter to staff on Tuesday, Nov. 21.
“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,” Lasseter stated in the written message, as reported by the site. “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.”
Female employees at Pixar allegedly knew how to handle Lasseter when he approached them in order to dodge his alleged advances. Some women have even used a reported common move, called “the Lasseter,” which was to allegedly prevent him from touching their legs. THR reports that a longtime insider once witnessed an uncomfortable encounter between Lasseter and another woman.
The insider alleges about the above: “She was bent over and [had her arm] across her thigh. 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 travelled.”
THR presents more alleged encounters of misconduct, which can be described in their original reporting.
Lasseter — who has won two Oscars — is best known as one of the founders of Pixar. He is also known for his work behind the popular films, Monster’s Inc., Toy Story, Frozen and Inside Out.
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