After being ousted by Disney over claims of sexual misconduct in the workplace, Pixar founder John Lasseter has been scooped up by Skydance to lead the company's animation department, Variety has confirmed.
Per the report, Lasseter's hiring comes on the heels of the celebrated animator meeting with rival studios like Warner Bros. over the last few months, hoping to find a new home for his talents. Lasseter will begin his tenure at Skydance later this month.
Once the most powerful person in Disney Animation, Lasseter took a hiatus from the company last November, citing certain "missteps." In June, it was announced that he would leave at the end of 2018. During his time at Pixar, Lasseter directed movies like the first two Toy Story entries, A Bug's Life, and Cars.
Founded and run by David Ellison, Skydance has an exclusive production/distribution deal with Paramount Pictures and often partners with J.J. Abrams for movies like Star Trek and Mission: Impossible. Ellison directly addressed the decision to hire Lasseter in a message to his employees, which was published by Variety.
"Let me be clear: we have not entered into this decision lightly," wrote Ellison, citing that "outside counsel" was brought in to properly investigate the claims against Lasseter. "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. 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."
Lasseter also released a statement (published by THR), in which he thanked Ellison and Skydance for bringing him aboard, while also addressing his time of penitence over the last year.
"I'm grateful to David and the Skydance team and know that I have been entrusted with an enormous responsibility. It is a distinct privilege that I will relish. I have spent the last year away from the industry in deep reflection, learning how my actions unintentionally made colleagues uncomfortable, which I deeply regret and apologize for. It has been humbling, but I believe it will make me a better leader."
The Time’s Up movement, which seeks to eradicate sexual misconduct against women in the workplace, released a statement condemning Lasseter's hiring:
"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. 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."
The full message can be read in the tweet below...