For­mer Pixar boss lands on his feet

The Prince George Citizen - - A & E - J ake COYLE

The ousted Pixar co­founder and for­mer Dis­ney an­i­ma­tion chief John Las­seter will head the re­cently launched an­i­ma­tion di­vi­sion of Sky­dance Me­dia, the pro­duc­tion com­pany an­nounced Wed­nes­day.

Las­seter, one of the most il­lus­tri­ous and pioneer­ing fig­ures in an­i­ma­tion, last year stepped down from Dis­ney af­ter ac­knowl­edg­ing “mis­steps” in his be­hav­iour with staff mem­bers.

In a state­ment, Las­seter said he has 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,” said Las­seter.

In a memo to staff, Sky­dance chief ex­ec­u­tive David El­li­son em­pha­sized that he didn’t take the de­ci­sion lightly. El­li­son said Sky­dance em­ployed out­side coun­sel to “thor­oughly in­ves­ti­gate the al­le­ga­tions” against Las­seter.

“John has been forth­right in tak­ing own­er­ship of his be­hav­iour, apol­o­gized for his ac­tions and has spent the past year on sab­bat­i­cal an­a­lyz­ing and im­prov­ing his work­place be­hav­iour,” El­li­son told staffers.

Las­seter, 61, was a cre­ative force be­hind ev­ery Pixar re­lease and was an ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer on Dis­ney hits (in­clud­ing Frozen, Moana and Zootopia) re­leased un­der his stew­ard­ship of the an­i­ma­tion gi­ant. He also di­rected the first two Toy Story movies, the first two Cars movies and A Bug’s Life.

In Novem­ber 2017, in the af­ter­math of Har­vey We­in­stein’s fall, Las­seter an­nounced that he was tak­ing a six-month “sab­bat­i­cal” from Dis­ney and apol­o­gized “to any­one who has ever been on the re­ceiv­ing end of an un­wanted hug” or any other ges­ture that made them feel “dis­re­spected or un­com­fort­able.”

At the time, Las­seter sug­gested he might re­turn to Dis­ney but last June, he and the stu­dio an­nounced they were cut­ting ties per­ma­nently. Las­seter served out the year as a con­sul­tant to Dis­ney.

Sky­dance Me­dia, founded in 2010 by the 36-year-old El­li­son, co-pro­duces and co-fi­nances films with Para­mount Pictures. It has been be­hind a slate of largely ac­tion films, in­clud­ing sev­eral Mis­sion: Im­pos­si­ble films, nu­mer­ous Star Trek re­leases, Ter­mi­na­tor Genisys and Jack Reacher: Never Go Back. Its up­com­ing films in­clude the new Top Gun se­quel.

Sky­dance in 2017 formed an an­i­ma­tion di­vi­sion that has two pro­duc­tions in the pipe­line: Alessan­dro Car­loni’s Luck and an un­ti­tled ac­tion fan­tasy to be di­rected by Vicky Jen­son.

Las­seter will set the over­all strat­egy and cre­ative di­rec­tion of the di­vi­sion, and over­see pro­duc­tion.

Las­seter, 61, was a cre­ative force be­hind ev­ery Pixar re­lease and was an ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer on Dis­ney hits re­leased un­der his stew­ard­ship of the an­i­ma­tion gi­ant.

AP FILE PHOTO

John Las­seter, Pixar co-founder and for­mer Walt Dis­ney An­i­ma­tion chief, will lead the an­i­ma­tion di­vi­sion of Sky­dance Me­dia.

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