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John Lasseter Hired To Lead The Animation Division At Skydance

In a move sure to spark complaints, controversy and discussion, former Disney/Pixar boss John Lasseter has been hired to lead the animation team at production company Skydance.

Lasseter, of course, forged a hugely successful career at Pixar, segueing into leading both his original company and Disney's Feature Animation arm. But he was placed on sabbatical in November of 2017 when reports emerged of inappropriate behaviour towards female employees. Disney's leaders ultimately decided to part ways with the animation director and creative guru, rightly seeing his situation as untenable.

It's all the most surprising then, to see him hired by a major company, one that has made a name for itself since 2010 backing the likes of the current Star Trek films and the more recent Mission Impossible entries. Chief David Ellison has been looking to move into animation, originally hiring former DreamWorks Animation executive Bill Damaschke in October 2017. He was surprised as anyone by the news of Lasseter effectively replacing him, and seems unlikely to stick around.

Word of Lasseter's new job – he'll work directly at the Skydance office in Los Angeles – has been criticised by the Time's Up advocacy organisation, and if he does forge a new chapter of his career, it'll mark one of the few people accused of troubling behaviour who is still working. And Skydance, aware of Lasseter's current reputation, addressed the issue in a letter to staff about his hiring. "While we would never minimize anyone’s subjective views on behavior, we are confident after many substantive conversations with John, and as the investigation has affirmed, that his mistakes have been recognized," Ellison wrote. "We are certain that John has learned valuable lessons and is ready to prove his capabilities as a leader and a colleague. And he has given his assurance that he will comport himself in a wholly professional manner that is the expectation of every Skydance colleague and partner."

What effect this might have on companies wanting to work with Skydance remains to be seen. The first films produced by the animation arm are due to arrive in 2021.

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