Deadline has reported that Pixar co-founder John Lasseter has been hired to lead Skydance Animation.

John Lasseter

John Lasseter

Update (5:08pm):

  • Variety is reporting that Lasseter’s contract with Skydance, “contains provisions that make the former Pixar Animation chief financially responsible for any legal claims involving sexual harassment.”
  • Should there be any future misbehavior, Lasseter will be solely responsible for legal fees.
  • Lasseter will also be required to indemnify Skydance for any misconduct not disclosed to the legal teams prior to his hiring.
  • The article says that in order to get the job at Skydance, Lasseter agreed to meet with outside legal teams to discuss behavior that was deemed inappropriate.
  • The legal teams also reportedly interviewed more than 20 people regarding Lasseter’s behavior.
  • Variety writes: “If Lasseter is found to have lied to lawyers, he will be fired.”
  • An insider to Variety: “David has been clear with John about what is expected in terms of his behavior. If there is any daylight between them in terms of that, there will obviously be severe repercussions.”

Earlier:

What’s happening:

  • Skydance CEO, David Ellison has announced via a company memo that John Lasseter has been hired as the Head of Skydance Animation.
  • Last year, Disney made the decision to part ways with Lasseter after putting him on a six-month leave of absence following allegations of misconduct.
  • Lasseter will be based in Los Angeles and will report directly to Ellison.
  • Ellison’s memo notes that the he and the senior leadership team will hold town hall meetings for Skydance colleagues: “The senior leadership team and I will be hosting a town hall for all Skydance Animation colleagues shortly to speak with you directly about this transition. Additional town halls at SDM and SDI will take place today and tomorrow.”

Ellison’s full memo:

Dear Colleagues:

I wanted to share with you first some news that we are announcing today.

Industry visionary John Lasseter is joining us to lead Skydance Animation. John will be based in Los Angeles and will report directly to me.

Bill Damaschke will be transitioning from his current role, and we are hopeful he will choose to remain within the Skydance family.

The attached press release outlines the news more fully, but I wanted to share a few things that have informed our decision to bring John on board.

First, no one can dispute John’s legacy building Pixar and Walt Disney Animation into the leadership position they now enjoy. His creative vision and forward-looking approach to animation has transformed the entire industry. At his heart, John is a storyteller – with a unique ability to tell beautiful and emotionally-driven tales that resonate and inspire audiences around the globe.

Second, I know many of you are aware of John’s admitted mistakes in his prior role helming those

studios. 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.

Third, we employed outside counsel to thoroughly investigate the allegations, which we considered serious and have warranted our full attention as we made this important decision. The senior leadership team and I have all carefully evaluated the findings of this extensive investigation.

Let me be clear: we have not entered into this decision lightly.

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. We are certain that John has learned valuable lessons and is ready to prove his capabilities as a leader and a colleague. And he has given his assurance that he will comport himself in a wholly professional manner that is the expectation of every Skydance colleague and partner.

We are very hopeful and excited about what the coming years will bring, as John’s art transcends generations and cultures, while deeply resonating on a fundamental level with what makes us uniquely human.

The senior leadership team and I will be hosting a town hall for all Skydance Animation colleagues shortly to speak with you directly about this transition. Additional town halls at SDM and SDI will take place today and tomorrow.

Skydance Animation colleagues, please be on the lookout for a call-to-gather email. I look forward to speaking with you in person.

Thanks,

David

  • The official press release contains the following quote from Lasseter:

“I’m grateful to David and the Skydance team and know that I have been entrusted with an enormous responsibility. It is a distinct privilege that I will relish. I have spent the last year away from the industry in deep reflection, learning how my actions unintentionally made colleagues uncomfortable, which I deeply regret and apologize for. It has been humbling, but I believe it will make me a better leader.

I want nothing more than the opportunity to return to my creative and entrepreneurial roots, to build and invent again. I join Skydance with the same enthusiasm that drove me to help build Pixar, with a firm desire to tell original and diverse stories for audiences everywhere. With what I have learned and how I have grown in the past year, I am resolute in my commitment to build an animation studio upon a foundation of quality, safety, trust and mutual respect.”

  • Lastly, Variety has also reported on the story and notes that, “If Lasseter is successful at Skydance he will be one of the first industry figures to mount a career come back in the #MeToo and Time’s Up era.”

 
 

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