John Lasseter began his career as a Disney animator, was a top executive with Pixar Animation Studios, directed five Pixar films including the first two Toy Story movies, and eventually oversaw all animated projects for both Pixar and the traditional Walt Disney Animation Studios.
But Lasseter’s career at Disney ended in late 2017 when he was accused of sexual misconduct towards Disney employees. Lasseter first took a six-month leave of absence before he officially departed the company the following year.
Many of the men accused of #MeToo-related transactions in 2017 are now attempting comebacks, and now Lasseter has as well. Lasseter was named the new head of Skydance Animation, Variety reported on Wednesday. Skydance is a production entity backed by David Ellison, and most of its projects to date have been co-productions with other studios, such as the last three Mission: Impossible films. Skydance has not had much of a track record in animation as of yet.
“While we would never minimize anyone’s subjective views on behavior, we are confident after many substantive conversations with John, and as the investigation has affirmed, that his mistakes have been recognized,” Ellison wrote.
“We are certain that John has learned valuable lessons and is ready to prove his capabilities as a leader and a colleague. 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.”
The announcement of Lasseter’s new role set off a negative reaction from Time’s Up, the organization formed to fight sexual misconduct in Hollywood following the #MeToo revelations.
“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,” the Time’s Up organization said in a statement.
“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.”
Melissa Silverstein, head of Women and Hollywood, went on to state that “David Ellison should be ashamed of himself.” Ellison is the son of Oracle founder Larry Ellison and the brother of Annapurna Pictures founder Megan Ellison.
Lasseter, Variety reported, had been shopping himself around Hollywood in an attempt to find a new post-Disney job but hadn’t had much luck with established companies.