EXCLUSIVE: Three town halls were held yesterday at Skydance Media regarding the studio’s hiring of former Walt Disney Animation/Pixar boss John Lasseter, and we understand from sources that CEO David Ellison made it clear to staff that if there’s any missteps with the former executive, who was accused of sexual harassment, he’s out.
We hear that Ellison spoke candidly and emotionally about his deep concern for the employees and the future of the company, and underscored Skydance’s zero tolerance policy for harassment.
Out of the three town halls – Skydance Interactive in Marina del Rey, the corporate film/TV offices in Santa Monica and the Skydance Animation suites at Mid-Wilshire – the latter division was the toughest with its questions. No word about anyone specifically up and leaving the company, but Ellison, we hear, asked employees for their time and patience and the chance for Lasseter to prove himself and show his reformed behavior. Assurances were given that there’s an open door policy and the dialogue will continue.
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Ellison informed staff that if there was a Harvey Weinstein in the company’s midst, the studio would never have moved forward with Lasseter’s hire. In the wake of Lasseter’s headlines at Disney, he was never brought up on any criminal charges nor were any settlements made by the Burbank studio to injured parties, or from a shell company repping Lasseter. Skydance female senior executives including Chief Creative Officer Dana Goldberg and Chief Marketing Officer Anne Globe were asked about their feelings directly regarding Lasseter’s hire and from what we hear they expressed a belief in giving him a second chance and supported his hire.
From what we hear Ellison drove the decision to tap Lasseter. The former Pixar chief’s team also reportedly expressed interest to Warner Bros. in trying to get him hired, but there were no serious talks between Lasseter and the Burbank studio. In regards to a Disney brain trust that is partially in place at Skydance Animation for Lasseter, the studio entered into a multi-year deal roughly a year ago with Big Hero 6 creative adviser and Tangled co-director Nathan Greno.
Another Skydance town hall with Lasseter himself will occur in the near future. He begins work at Skydance later this month.
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