After accusations of repeated misconduct last fall and an admission of “missteps” that led to a six-month leave of absence, John Lasseter will now exit Pixar and the Walt Disney Co. at the end of the year.
With a glowing quote from Disney CEO Bob Iger, the company today went for the old politician’s trick of dumping bad news on a Friday afternoon, announcing that its animation overlord will be taking a consultant position with the company until the end of 2018. So he’s exiled, but not entirely banished.
Here’s Disney full statement:
Following his sabbatical, John Lasseter will assume a consulting role at The Walt Disney Company until December 31, 2018, at which time he will be leaving the company.
“John had a remarkable tenure at Pixar and Disney Animation, reinventing the animation business, taking breathtaking risks, and telling original, high quality stories that will last forever,” said Robert A. Iger, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, The Walt Disney Company/ “We are profoundly grateful for his contributions, which included a masterful and remarkable turnaround of The Walt Disney Animation Studios. One of John’s greatest achievements is assembling a team of great storytellers and innovators with the vision and talent to set the standard in animation for generations to come.”
“The last six months have provided an opportunity to reflect on my life, career and personal priorities,” said John Lasseter. “While I remain dedicated to the art of animation and inspired by the creative talent at Pixar and Disney, I have decided the end of this year is the right time to begin focusing on new creative challenges. I am extremely proud of what two of the most important and prolific animation studios have achieved under my leadership and I’m grateful for all of the opportunities to follow my creative passion at Disney.”
Although more than a little responsible for the $6 billion Pixar has made at the U.S. box office during his successful run as Disney’s animation chief creative officer, Lasseter was moved into the shadows in November amid reports of inappropriate conduct, revelations that came as issues of sexual harassment and sexual assault hit Hollywood in the aftermath of the Harvey Weinstein exposés by the New York Times and New Yorker.
The usually chummy and Hawaiian-shirt wearing Lasseter admitted late last year to giving “unwanted hugs” and behavior that others “felt crossed the line.” Interviews revealed uninvited kisses and touching and amorous displays at studio parties where alcohol was served.
Needless to say, it’s not the image Iger or Disney execs wanted, even if it was from one of their biggest moneymakers and top managers. Now having it both ways, Disney can say that they didn’t want him back as that six-month sabbatical concluded, but still get the benefit of his wide-ranging talents for another six months in a lesser but still Lasseter-level capacity.
Today’s news comes 11 days after Disney and ABC canceled the network’s hit series Roseanne following backlash from racist tweets delivered by the show’s star Roseanne Barr. Iger said of the decision that “There was only one thing to do here, and that was the right thing.”
Disney did not indicate any succession plan in today’s statement.