John Lasseter is back in the business. The former Disney and Pixar animation chief, who left Disney following allegations of misconduct, is taking over as the head of Skydance Animation.
Lasseter will start later this month, based in Los Angeles and reporting directly to Skydance CEO David Ellison. He will be charged with setting strategy and creative direction and overseeing production and operations, the company said.
In a memo to colleagues, Ellison said Lasseter will replace Bill Damaschke in the role but expressed hope that Damaschke would continue to work at Skydance. Damaschke joined Skydance as president of animation and family entertainment in October 2017.
“We did not enter into this decision lightly,” declared Ellison in a prepared statement, referring to unspecified “mistakes” that he said Lasseter has apologized for.
According to the memo, Skydance asked outside counsel to investigate the allegations against Lasseter before hiring him. “We are certain that John has learned valuable lessons and is ready to prove his capabilities as a leader and a colleague,” Ellison wrote. “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.”
Lasseter’s fall from grace at Disney was seen by many as a #metoo moment when a powerful executive was rightly felled by complaints of sexual misconduct by colleagues. But Lasseter’s time in the wilderness was short — technically, he had remained on board with Disney as a consultant through the end of 2018.
“I’m grateful to David and the Skydance team and know that I have been entrusted with an enormous responsibility,” Lasseter said in a prepared statement. “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.”
Lasseter wrote, directed and animated Pixar’s first short films, as well as features including Toy Story and Toy Story 2, A Bug’s Life, and Cars.
Skydance Media: skydance.com