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Pixar Post - T.J.
A new article from The Hollywood Reporter came out on April 25 and I'm not sure how I feel about it. I appreciate that they're continuing to explore the topic, but there's a lot of fluff in the article that doesn't feel relevant and doesn't advance the conversation all that much (much is rehashed from the last article).

There are definitely some harsh things in there, but I can dismiss many of them as disgruntled employees. Of course, you can discredit all of them and there's still the glaring problem of Disney (or John) not saying anything at ALL about this (and why go hunker down in the U.K. if you have nothing to hide during your sabbatical)? Also, I am still questioning why Disney wouldn't want to do an investigation and move on from this with a solid decision. May 21 will be here before we know it.

My prediction = Brad Bird will take over and John won't return.

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What's your reasoning behind guessing Bird will take over? I'm curious since everyone else seems to be guessing Docter and as far as I know Bird isn't really tied to Pixar like some of the other guys there.

Edit: Oh, because he didn't really work under Lasseter? Sorry, I CTRl+F'd his name, read it, and didn't really think it through.

Actually reading everything through now...

Wow. As if the comments comparing him to de la Cruz weren't enough, he's got his own real life equivalent to Hector now! 
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@Bonnie and @T.J My guess would be Pete Docter too, we all know Brad Bird really wants to do some live action, and he's not attached to Pixar the same way Docter is. If anything Docter earned it, everything he has done for Pixar is outstanding, and he's 3/3 now as far as the quality of his films go?
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That story makes both John and Disney look bad.  Out of all the harassment stories that have come out over the past few months this one is still the biggest shock to me.

I don't think there is any way John returns.  This has gotten too much press for Disney to continue to ignore.  I think Pete Docter or Andrew Stanton (or both) will take over.

That comment about Darla Anderson leaving because of bullying concerns about her is crazy too.  The article really goes out of its way to paint Pixar as a toxic workplace.
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Pixar Post - T.J.
Bird really is a consummate filmmaker, but for some reason I think it could work. He's known as a unicorn (can animate, can direct, has a total leader vibe about him, can manage the finances, etc.). Those are some other reasons I think he'd work. I kind of think (as much as he has aspirations to do live-action still), that he would love the opportunity to put his name on every project to say he helped focus it in more. 

That's not to say that Pete would be a bad choice, but I think Pete is more internal and needs a little more time to think through his processes (all my assumptions). I kind of think Pete revels in introspective thoughts and talking to others over time.

I think Andrew would be my second guess of who would take over because I think he has proven to be a great consultant on projects. Again, not that Pete hasn't (he was a consultant on Bao), but I just have a feeling (nothing else).

Yeah, the article really does paint it as a toxic place to work and there have certainly been some departures that have mirrored some of that sentiment. But, I think there were more departures after the wage-fixing issues that Catmull was tied to than to this. I can't speak to the inner workings all that seriously since I only hear one-sided stories from employees (or ex-employees) and yes, some have said that the environment is "different" than it used to be, but for the most part, I don't get a sense of a toxic environment from employees at all.

So many are still so happy (men and women) to be a part of the organization and the halls are much more diverse (culturally as well) than they seemed 15 or 20 years ago (since I wasn't there 15-20 years ago is why I say "seemed'). I don't like this kind of attention focused on them, but at the same time, if John did these things (or others not listed in print), it will ultimately be a change for the positive - time will heal those wounds and good movies will cure most of the lessened image externally. There may still be some scars internally, but I can confidently say that what I'm seeing there today is not dark. They do have concerns of timeline squeezes/crunches and financial pressures...but again, that will probably go away as the dust settles on lower than ideal returns of Cars 3 and The Good Dinosaur.
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Update from the Wall Street Journal:

LOS ANGELES—Executives at Walt Disney Co. have discussed bringing animation guru John Lasseter back to the company in a new role that would reduce his managerial power but allow him to retain creative influence, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Those discussions come as the end of Mr. Lasseter’s six-month leave, taken following accusations of unwelcome hugging and other touching, approaches on May 21. So far, Disney has given no indication whether or not Mr. Lasseter will return. It is also possible that Monday will pass with no decision.

Pixar Animation Studios and Walt Disney Animation, which Mr. Lasseter helped develop into family-entertainment powerhouses, have adapted to operating in his absence, even as staff members remain in the dark about who will lead them, employees said. The entertainment giant faces a tricky situation in deciding what to do about Mr. Lasseter, a predicament facing many companies in the #MeToo era as they deal with executives whose infractions they didn’t consider severe enough to warrant termination.

In Mr. Lasseter’s case, Disney executives led by Chief Executive Robert Iger are deciding the fate of a man long considered one of Hollywood’s most bankable and well-known creative geniuses.

In his position as chief creative officer of Disney’s studios, a title he has retained while on leave, Mr. Lasseter has steered a number of the company’s most valuable franchises, including “Toy Story” and “Finding Nemo.” After Disney acquired Pixar in 2005, he helped lead a revival of Disney Animation Studios, which made “Frozen” and “Zootopia,” and consulted on everything from toy design to theme park attractions. Related

Along the way, Mr. Lasseter became something of a celebrity himself, showing up at Disney fan conventions to present new footage or sell versions of his signature Hawaiian shirts. Rosé from his family’s Sonoma Valley vineyard is still available at Disneyland and Walt Disney World.

A representative for Mr. Lasseter didn’t respond to a request for comment.

If Mr. Lasseter returns in his prior role, Disney risks alienating employees and opening itself to blame for any future inappropriate behavior on his part. Some current and former Pixar employees have told media outlets, including The Wall Street Journal, that Mr. Lasseter regularly hugged or otherwise touched them without consent.

Some employees said that Mr. Lasseter’s behavior didn’t bother them. Others, however, particularly younger women, said they were uncomfortable and came forward in the light of the #MeToo movement.

In announcing his leave in November, Mr. Lasseter, 61 years old, said: “I especially want to apologize 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.”

Since then, Mr. Lasseter has disappeared from public view. Disney employees said they haven’t heard from him and don’t know where he is.

He left immediately before the debut of Pixar’s Oscar-winning “Coco” and has been absent as the studios ready two high-profile releases: Pixar’s “The Incredibles 2,” out June 15, and Disney Animation’s “Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck-It Ralph 2” in November. Other projects that have moved forward without his involvement include “Toy Story 4” and “Frozen 2,” scheduled for 2019.

In considering a redefined role for Mr. Lasseter, Disney leadership appears to be attempting to maintain the benefit of his creative input without the liabilities that could come from his being in charge of thousands of employees, as he previously was.

Day-to-day management duties, including hiring or firing capabilities, would be removed or contained in the scenario being considered, the person familiar with the matter said. Reining in Mr. Lasseter’s managerial oversight could be complicated, however, as his power came less from his official title than his unofficial position as Disney’s most-valued creative employee, people who worked with him said.

It is still possible he could leave altogether or come back with his old job unchanged, the person added.

His absence has been felt in every corner of Disney’s animation business, current and former employees say. Though he personally directed only five movies, the last one in 2011, he consulted on every movie at Pixar and Disney Animation, weighing in anywhere from every few weeks to every few months depending on how smoothly production was running, employees said. Approval from Mr. Lasseter was necessary to move past key benchmarks in writing, storyboarding, production and editing.

Now Disney is relying primarily on a panel of artists, producers and executives at each studio to make creative decisions, according to current and former employees, a more diffuse approach than Mr. Lasseter’s arrangement.

Other experienced creative hands are helping to lead upcoming movies in Mr. Lasseter’s absence. Andrew Stanton, director of “WALL-E” and “Finding Dory,” is filling that role on “Toy Story 4,” whose director, Josh Cooley, hasn’t previously made a feature.
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Pixar Post - T.J.
Well, as PixarPug posted the article from the WSJ, it looks like people aren't happy with the idea (not surprisingly) about Disney considering bringing Lasseter back in a lowered capacity. Due to this, the hashtag #LoseLasseter (link for a search on Twitter) is gaining momentum on Twitter. It's not trending or anything, but the sentiment isn't great. Additionally, I read through the comments on the WSJ article and I'm surprised to see about 25% in support of his return and 75% not in support.

What do you think? We're passed his planned 6-month leave now. Do you think he will come back and more importantly do you think he should come back?
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Pixar Post - T.J.
Well, it's official now, John Lasseter will be leaving the company at the end of 2018 - here are the details from our post.


John Lasseter1.jpg 

Today, Pixar co-founder John Lasseter announced that he will be leaving The Walt Disney Company — including Pixar Animation Studios by the end of 2018. “The last six months have provided an opportunity to reflect on my life, career and personal priorities,” said John Lasseter. “While I remain dedicated to the art of animation and inspired by the creative talent at Pixar and Disney, I have decided the end of this year is the right time to begin focusing on new creative challenges. I am extremely proud of what two of the most important and prolific animation studios have achieved under my leadership and I’m grateful for all of the opportunities to follow my creative passion at Disney.”

Back in November Lasseter took a six-month leave of absence, after allegations and "missteps" towards his subordinates. As the sabbatical has come to an end Disney released an official statement revealing that Lasseter will assume a consulting role with The Walt Disney Company, however that consulting role will expire December 31, 2018.

“John had a remarkable tenure at Pixar and Disney Animation, reinventing the animation business, taking breathtaking risks, and telling original, high-quality stories that will last forever,” said Robert A. Iger, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, The Walt Disney Company. “We are profoundly grateful for his contributions, which included a masterful and remarkable turnaround of The Walt Disney Animation Studios. One of John’s greatest achievements is assembling a team of great storytellers and innovators with the vision and talent to set the standard in animation for generations to come.”

The Hollywood Reporter is noting that director Pete Doctor (Pixar Animation Studios) and director Jennifer Lee (Disney Animation Studios) will be placed into larger roles within their studio upon Lasseter's departure, though we would like to note that neither studio has named a successor at the time this article has been released.


This is tough news to hear. On one hand, John is one of the pioneers at Pixar and helped grow the company we respect deeply into what it is today. He likewise did the same thing with Disney animation as well. On the other hand, if he likewise did what he is accused of, then we believe this is the proper step to take.

Some have already reached out to us and ask why his role wouldn't be eliminated right away — or, why it wasn't eliminated back in November 2017. We think that the majority of this decision came from the standpoint of how integral John has been to the organization and the potential impact this would have on investors. The original six-month leave was more than likely a time to reflect and figure out the next steps by Disney. His consultation role through the end of 2018 also means that the company can assuage investors as a new individual is put in place as the creative head.

In any regard, we can only make assumptions as to what happened (or to what level they happened) without any additional details revealed. So, although today's news may be heavy, Pixar is a company with a foundation of openness and tolerance for all. We look forward to the future of the company and the wonderful animation and artwork they produce.

Pixar Post - Julie & T.J.

So, what are your thoughts? 


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"Pixar is a company with a foundation of openness and tolerance for all."

As long as your name isn't John Lasseter.

I have to say I'm in broad agreement with 'Frustrated'. I don't know exactly what happened, but... that's the problem. There are too many vague allusions and closed doors for my liking.
I'm far from a hugger myself and grit my teeth when distant acquaintances try it, but I'm fairly staggered to think it might be a fireable offence. 'Inappropriate touching' sounds much worse, but it's frustratingly coy and fuzzy, and mentioned in the same breath as 'hugging'...

I dunno. If he did something that meant he had to go, that's fine. But there's a whiff of Game of Thrones about it, and Sean Bean just knelt at the steps.
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Pixar Post - T.J.
I agree with a lot of the comments "Frustrated" had as well - I think there are too many vague mentions. I think you'll agree with a lot of our comments in our next podcast (Episode 61) which comes out at Noon ET on June 11 (so 1 hour from now). We talk all about the good and the bad of this announcement and what could be next for Pixar.

Overall, I feel like it's the uncertainty that really make it harder to process.
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Right or wrong I feel like this was really the only course of action they could take.  I like to think that Disney conducted a thorough investigation into these allegations especially since they waited over 6 months to end the relationship.  A lot of these reports have led to the immediate ouster of the accused.  I saw another report on CartoonBrew (not sure how legitimate it is) that said one of the top HR employees at Pixar was also leaving and she was the person that covered up a lot of Lasseter's actions.  

I saw Lasseter's statement mentioned starting new creative endeavors - someone is going to give him a second chance.  Would another studio take the risk?  Netflix has been wanting to expand their animation output.  Could they sign JL to a development deal like they did with Obama, Ryan Murphy and Shonda Rhimes?  

Hope the transition goes smoothly.
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Pixar Post - T.J.
Frustrated - you're not incorrect that some overcorrection and fast-tracking is happening. PixarPug - yeah, I saw that article as well - again, so many questions!! Ugh!
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A new article from THR details the 7 person team leading the creative decisions since Lasseter left last year.  

I'm a little surprised Andrew Stanton isn't part of the team.  I guess he's focusing on directing more live-action projects like he did with Stranger Things last year.

It's cool to see Domee Shi on the team.

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It was officially announced earlier today that Docter and Lee will take over at the respective studios (therefore splitting Lasseter’s former roles) and will both report to Disney chairman Alan Horn.

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Pete is a great choice.  I just hope this doesn't limit him directing future films.
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