UPDATED with more industry reaction: Skydance CEO David Ellison had to know there would be critics of his hiring of John Lasseter to run the company’s animation division, but he might not have expected it to be so denounced as what Time’s Up said today.
“Hiring decisions have consequence,” the high-profile organization said in a statement Wednesday after the ex-Pixar chief and much accused Lasseter’s new role was made public. “And offering a high-profile position to an abuser who has yet to do any of those things is condoning abuse.”
The sentiment was echoed by other prominent Hollywood groups including Women In Film, Los Angeles and Women and Hollywood. The former questioned how Lasseter’s past conduct was vetted by Skydance, saying “For women in this industry to feel safe, we need more transparency than the above statement and we need to know what the company plans to do to ensure that safety.”
Melissa Silverstein, the founder of Women and Hollywood, called the hire “a horrible message to the women at Pixar who stood up and told their truths about their experiences.”
Read all of the statements in full below.
After a series of harassment claims were made against Lasseter, Bob Iger and Disney decided to part ways with him in late in 2018. That transition to a consulting gig that ended on December 31, and followed Lasseter being exiled via a six-month leave of absence by the House of Mouse amid accusations of repeated misconduct and his admission of “missteps.”
Called a “singular creative and executive talent” by Ellison today, Lasseter is set to start his new gig in Skydance’s LA HQ later this months and will report directly to the CEO. The ex-Pixar chief replaces Bill Damaschke, who held the title of President of Animation and Family Entertainment at the company. No word whether Damaschke is sticking around.
Ellison did address Lasseter’s past behavior in his memo to staff today, when he noted that “John has been forthright in taking ownership of his behavior, apologized for his actions and has spent the past year on sabbatical analyzing and improving his workplace behavior.” He added that an investigation had been conducted by Skydance before Lasseter was formally brought on board. “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.”
Skydance did not respond to request for comment by Deadline on the reaction from Time’s Up on the Lasseter hire. We’ll update if we get a statement from them.
Here’s the full Time’s Up statement:
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.
People often ask when a man who has abused his power “gets” to “come back.” There is no simple answer. But here are a few first steps:
1) Demonstrate true remorse.
2) Work deeply to reform your behavior.
3) Deliver restitution to those you harmed.
That’s the bare minimum.
Hiring decisions have consequences. And offering a high-profile position to an abuser who has yet to do any of those things is condoning abuse.
Here’s Women In Film LA’s statement:
Lasseter’s innappropriate touching and kissing has been reported by a number of women – from colleagues to subordinates. In the statement from Skydance, David Ellison says, “Lasseter has been forthright in taking ownership of his behavior, apologized for his actions and has spent the past year on sabbatical analyzing and improving his workplace behavior.” He also says that Skydance had “employed outside counsel to investigate the allegations.”
What does this mean? For women in this industry to feel safe, we need more transparency than the above statement and we need to know what the company plans to do to ensure that safety. By saying Skydance has conducted an independent investigation and then proceded to hire Lasseter, do they mean to suggest that they are hiring him in spite of the numerous accounts of women and colleagues? We do think that people can learn and change, and we look forward to men who model this, but true reparation requires transparency.
Here’s Women and Hollywood’s statement:
I was floored to read that John Lasseter has been hired to run Skydance animation following his removal from Pixar. This is a horrible message to the women at Pixar who stood up and told their truths about their experiences. This is also a message to all that the bro culture is alive and well and thriving in Hollywood.
David Ellison should be ashamed of himself.