Who Will Disney Promote to Fill the John Lasseter Void?

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Jennifer Lee and Pete Docter

A new creative team is helping to guide the company’s decisions at Pixar and Disney Animation even as two positions remain officially unfilled.

After an uncomfortably long pause, Disney confirmed on June 8 that former Pixar and Disney Animation chief John Lasseter will consult until the end of the year before leaving permanently. Less clear is who takes the helm in his wake.

Sources say that following Lasseter’s departure on a “sabbatical” in November in the aftermath of The Hollywood Reporter’s report on allegations of inappropriate conduct, Pixar put in place a "creative approval team" made up initially of three men and three women that seems to have morphed to include four men and three women.

This group apparently exists alongside the storied all-male “brain trust” that has long guided Pixar's creative decisions. It is unclear how the roles of the groups differ or how they might interact. Disney declined to comment.

Because creative decisions at Pixar were long dominated by men, only one of the women on the new team — Domee Shi — has a creative background: She directed Bao, the short that is attached to Incredibles 2. The other female committee members come from producing: Lindsey Collins (Finding Dory) and Kori Rae (Monsters University).

Three of the male team members are experienced directors: Pete Docter (Monsters Inc., Up), Lee Unkrich (Coco) and Dan Scanlon (Monsters University). Docter and Unkrich are longtime members of the brain trust. The seventh member of the new team is Pixar president Jim Morris, who will remain in charge of the day-to-day management.

Morris' counterpart at Disney Animation, Andrew Millstein, will continue in that role (a decision that doesn’t sit well with some who see him, as one source puts it, as having been a Lasseter “enabler and babysitter”).

But that’s on the business side; both places also need creative heads. Sources believe it will be Docter at Emeryville, California-based Pixar, though he is said to be reluctant to play the part as he prefers to focus on directing. For Burbank-based Disney Animation, one possible choice is Jennifer Lee, whose writing credits include Frozen, while Wreck-It Ralph director Rich Moore also is mentioned as possibly playing a role.  

This story first appeared in the June 13 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

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