Earlier today, The Hollywood Reporter published a memo from Disney and Pixar Executive John Lasseter. The memo made vague apologies and suggested that, after meeting with other Disney executives, Lasseter would take a sabbatical.
Less than an hour after the memo went public, news broke that Rashida Jones and writing partner Will McCormack left Toy Story 4 after Lasseter made an unwanted advance. Lasseter’s memo was vague in places, except for one section where he apologized 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.”
Lasseter’s Track Record
The official word on Jones and McCormack leaving Toy Story 4 is “creative differences”. However, multiple employees and industry insiders had another story to tell. Apparently Lasseter’s lechery is well-known. Some of the women who worked with him developed a defensive maneuver “…they called ‘the Lasseter’ to prevent their boss from putting his hands on their legs.”
Stories about Lasseter’s behavior are not new. The company has either ignor ed or covered for it for more than a decade, according to one source. The source told Hollywood Reporter “he once noticed an oddly cropped photo of Lasseter standing between two women at a company function. When he mentioned that to a colleague, he was told, ‘We had to crop it. Do you know where his hands were?'”
Prior to this afternoon’s reports, Lasseter’s public image was relatively clean. His textbook apology, however, was confusing at best, bouncing back and forth between industry lingo and oddly specific references. The conclusion to the memo was that he needed to step away from the company for a limited break. “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.”
Once news of Jones’ allegations broke, his reason for stepping down became more clear.