After he was ousted from Disney/Pixar in the wake of sexual harassment allegations, former animation chief John Lasseter has found a new job. The disgraced filmmaker has been named head of Skydance Animation, which is an offshoot of Skydance Media, the production company responsible for movies like Mission Impossible: Fallout and the upcoming Terminator and Top Gun sequels.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Lasseter will report directly to Skydance Media CEO David Ellison, who defended the choice in a memo to his employees. “John has acknowledged and apologized for his mistakes and, during the past year away from the workplace, has endeavored to address and reform them,” it reads.
Those mistakes, which Lasseter referred to as “missteps” when he first took a leave of absence from Disney and Pixar in November 2017, included allegations of “grabbing, kissing, [and] making comments about physical attributes” toward employees, amounting to what was called a “toxic” and “sexist” culture for female employees.
In a statement, Lasseter said, “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.”
The hiring was quickly met with criticism from the Time’s Up organization, which has been a vocal opponent of ongoing sexual misconduct issues in Hollywood. As reported by THR, the group said, “Skydance Media’s decision to hire John Lasseter as head of animation endorses and perpetuates a broken system that allows powerful men to act without consequence. At a moment when we should be uplifting the many talented voices who are consistently underrepresented, Skydance Media is providing another position of power, prominence, and privilege to a man who has repeatedly been accused of sexual harassment in the workplace.”
In his role as the head of Skydance Animation, Lasseter arrives before the company has released a single film. The division launched in 2017 and two films currently in the works, including a co-production with Paramount, called Luck. Neither film has a release date.