EMERYVILLE (CBS SF) – Pixar Chief and Head of Disney Animation, John Lasseter announced Tuesday he will be taking a leave of absence from Pixar Animation Studios over unspecified “missteps” and what he called “falling short” of being a leader.
Lasseter, the creative genius behind “Toy Story,” “Moana,” “Frozen” — and Pixar’s newest animated film “Coco,” set to debut on Thanksgiving, has been accused of sexually harassing women for years.
The stories included a reported “unwanted advance” toward actress and writer Rashida Jones, who had been working on the script for “Toy Story 4.”
According to the Hollywood Reporter, who broke the story, Lasseter was well known by insiders for “grabbing, kissing, and making comments about women’s physical attributes.”
Women would use a move they called ‘the Lasseter’ holding their arm across their thigh to prevent their boss from putting his hand on their legs.
Testimonials from colleagues also describe long, unwanted hugs where Lasseter would whisper in their ear.
In a memo obtained by The Hollywood Reporter, Lasseter stated “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.”
The memo continues. “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.”
Lasseter plans to take a six-month sabbatical in hopes to better himself and ultimately return to be the leader Pixar deserves.
Pixar’s movies has grossed over $6 billion domestically and won eight Academy Awards. This Thursday, the Emeryville-based animation studio is set to release their latest feature film, Coco.
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