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John Lasseter Takes Leave Of Absence From Pixar Following Misconduct Accusations

The animation world has been shocked by the announcement that Pixar (and Disney's) most powerful figure John Lasseter would be taking a leave of absence following what he describes as "missteps". Reports suggest that he has a long history of inappropriate behaviour including unwanted physical contact and "grabbing, kissing, making comments about physical attributes". Lasseter sent a company-wide memo which was obtained by The Hollywood Reporter.

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.

This comes in the wake of a wave of revelations in Hollywood and elsewhere, in which many powerful men have been accused of a range of offences from harassment to sexual assault. While the accusations against Lasseter are not (at this stage) quite of the same magnitude as a Harvey Weinstein or a Kevin Spacey, they still represent unacceptable behaviour, that show a gross abuse of power over a long period.

This is incredibly disappointing for animation fans, although of course, this is nothing in comparison to the pain caused to those who were affected by his actions. We can only hope that will lead to changes both at Pixar and across the industry as a whole to become less of a "boy's club" and to become a more open and welcoming place for everyone.