The Hollywood Reporter states that Pixar and Disney Chief Creative Officer John Lasseter is the latest to be ensnared in the wave of sexual misconduct allegations roiling the United States, taking a six-month leave of absence from Pixar effective today. In a memo to staff issued on Tuesday, Mr. Lasseter acknowledged “painful” conversations and unspecified “missteps” in announcing his leave of absence from the studio. Numerous insiders (who wished to remain anonymous to avoid damaging their careers in the tight-knit animation community) stated that he had a pattern of “grabbing, kissing, making comments about physical attributes” to women, and that “some women at Pixar knew to turn their heads quickly when encountering him to avoid his kisses,” even developing a move they dubbed “the Lasseter” to prevent him from putting his hands on their legs.
UPDATED: Actor/writer Rashida Jones and her writing partner Will McCormack have gone on the record to deny the Hollywood Reporter story that the pair left Toy Story 4 due to an unwanted advance from John Lasseter. However, while they reiterated the “creative and philosophical differences” explanation officially provided by Disney/Pixar, Ms. Jones and Mr. McCormack issued a statement declaring that, “There is so much talent at Pixar and we remain enormous fans of their films. But it is also a culture where women and people of color do not have an equal creative voice, as is demonstrated by their director demographics: out of the 20 films in the company’s history, only one was co-directed by a woman and only one was directed by a person of color. We encourage Pixar to be leaders in bolstering, hiring, and promoting more diverse and female storytellers and leaders. We hope we can encourage all those who have felt like their voices could not be heard in the past to feel empowered.”