Time's Up, Women and Hollywood Blast Skydance for Hiring John Lasseter
With the hire, Skydance is "providing position of power, prominence and privilege to a man who has repeatedly been accused of sexual harassment," the organization said.
Time's Up is saying the news that ousted Pixar and Disney Animation creative chief John Lasseter has been tapped to lead Skydance Animation "endorses and perpetuates a broken system that allows powerful men to act without consequence."
In a statement Wednesday to The Hollywood Reporter following the hiring news, Time's Up 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."
The Time's Up statement added, "People often ask when a man who has abused his power 'gets' to 'come back.' There is no simple answer. But here are a few first steps: 1) Demonstrate true remorse. 2) Work deeply to reform your behavior. 3) Deliver restitution to those you harmed. That's the bare minimum. Hiring decisions have consequences. And offering a high-profile position to an abuser who has yet to do any of those things is condoning abuse."
Melissa Silverstein, founder and publisher of Women and Hollywood, told THR, "I was floored to read that John Lasseter has been hired to run Skydance animation following his removal from Pixar. This is a horrible message to the women at Pixar who stood up and told their truths about their experiences. This is also a message to all that the bro culture is alive and well and thriving in Hollywood."
She added, "[Skydance Media founder and CEO] David Ellison should be ashamed of himself."
On Wednesday Women in Film, Los Angeles said in its own statement to THR, "Lasseter’s inappropriate touching and kissing has been reported by a number of women — from colleagues to subordinates." WIF went on to quote Ellison's statement about Lasseter's hire. "What does this mean?" the organization asked. "For women in this industry to feel safe, we need more transparency than the above statement and we need to know what the company plans to do to ensure that safety. By saying Skydance has conducted an independent investigation and then proceded [sic] to hire Lasseter, do they mean to suggest that they are hiring him in spite of the numerous accounts of women and colleagues? We do think that people can learn and change, and we look forward to men who model this, but true reparation requires transparency."
Equal Rights Advocates' executive director Noreen Farrell added in a statement, "This is exactly the type of complicit behavior that allows sexual harassment to continue in the shadows of every industry. This is how serial harassers get away with abusing and harming other people for their entire careers." ERA continued, "Corporations have got to stop rewarding repeat predators. By hiring a known harasser in a position of power and prestige, this company is sending a message to its employees — especially the women — that it is willing to give harassers a free pass even at the risk of its workers’ safety."
Women in Animation declined to comment.
Lasseter took a leave of absence from Disney and Pixar in November 2017, citing "missteps," as THR prepared a story about alleged misconduct on the part of the animation head. In June 2018, the Walt Disney Co. announced that the creative chief would retire at the end of the year but maintain a consulting role until Dec. 31. He has been replaced by directors Pete Docter and Jennifer Lee.
In a Nov. 21, 2017 story in THR, animation insiders detailed Lasseter's alleged misconduct, with one saying that Lasseter was known for "grabbing, kissing, making comments about physical attributes." Several women described a move called "the Lasseter" to reporter Kim Masters, which they used to prevent him from touching their legs at professional events.
On Wednesday, Ellison, to whom Lasseter will be a direct report in his new position, called the former Pixar creative chief "a singular creative and executive talent." He addressed allegations against Lasseter by saying, "John has acknowledged and apologized for his mistakes and, during the past year away from the workplace, has endeavored to address and reform them.”
In a memo to employees about the hire, Ellison revealed that Skydance had hired an outside company to investigate allegations against Lasseter and said, "Let me be clear: we have not entered into this decision lightly."