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John Lasseter, Ousted Pixar Co-Founder, Will Join Skydance Media

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LOS ANGELES — John Lasseter, the Pixar co-founder who was forced to resign from the Walt Disney Company in June after complaints about unwanted touching in the workplace, has found a new Hollywood perch: Skydance Media, a production company affiliated with Paramount Pictures.

David Ellison, who founded Skydance in 2010 with money inherited from his father, the Oracle billionaire Larry Ellison, said on Wednesday that Mr. Lasseter had been named the head of a relatively new department, Skydance Animation. Mr. Lasseter, 61, will start this month.

“John is a singular creative and executive talent whose impact on the animation industry cannot be overstated,” Mr. Ellison said in a statement. “And yet we did not enter into this decision lightly. John has acknowledged and apologized for his mistakes, and, during the past year away from the workplace, has endeavored to address and reform them.”

Mr. Ellison did not specify how. In a statement of his own, Mr. Lasseter insisted that he had spent time in “deep reflection, learning how my actions unintentionally made many colleagues uncomfortable, which I deeply regret and apologize for.”

Mr. Lasseter, the force behind the “Toy Story,” “Cars” and “Frozen” franchises, added that he planned to build Skydance Animation in the same way he built Pixar, albeit with a new commitment to “safety, trust and mutual respect.”

The accusations against Mr. Lasseter did not rise to the level of those against powerful Hollywood figures like Harvey Weinstein, who has been accused of acts of sexual misconduct and rape going back decades, or Leslie Moonves, the former CBS chief who was found to have engaged in “multiple acts of serious nonconsensual sexual misconduct,” according to a report by CBS investigators. Both Mr. Weinstein and Mr. Moonves have denied engaging in nonconsensual sexual activity.

But the accusations made by Pixar and Disney employees against Mr. Lasseter were serious enough to prompt his ouster. The Hollywood Reporter cited “grabbing, kissing and making comments about physical attributes” as recurring behavior by Mr. Lasseter in meetings and at work events, particularly when he had consumed alcohol. Multiple staff members also told managers at Disney that Mr. Lasseter had become increasingly domineering over the years.

As word spread in Hollywood this week that Mr. Lasseter was close to finding new employment, several influential women involved with the #MeToo movement noted that Mr. Lasseter expressed no regret for his behavior or discussed making efforts to reform when he left Disney in June. In a statement at the time, Mr. Lasseter said that, upon reflection on “my life, career and personal priorities,” he had made his own decision to “begin focusing on new creative challenges.”

Disney had put Mr. Lasseter on leave in November 2017. At that time, he sent an email to employees at Pixar and the separate Walt Disney Animation studio apologizing “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.”


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