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Skydance CEO David Ellison Explains Why John Lasseter Is Being Hired Following Sexual Harassment Claims

Skydance CEO David Ellison wrote in a memo to staffers that he has "not entered into this decision lightly."

John Lasseter

John Lasseter

MediaPunch/REX/Shutterstock

John Lasseter is returning to the industry as the head of Skydance Animation. Skydance CEO David Ellison confirmed the news to staffers via a memo (via Deadline). The announcement follows news from last fall that Disney was parting ways with Lasseter after he was accused of sexual harassment and admitted to making “missteps.” Disney originally put Lasseter on a six-month leave of absence after the allegations were made.

As reported by Variety, Lasseter will begin working with Skydance Animation by the end of January. The animation head reportedly was trying to mount a comeback for sometime in the industry, meeting with Warner Bros. and other studios about potential roles. Lasseter was the chief creative officer of Walt Disney Animation Studios and Pixar when the company severed ties with him. During his time at Pixar, Lasseter famously directed “Toy Story,” “A Bug’s Life,” and “Cars,” while producing all of their efforts.

In his memo to Skydance staff, Ellison wrote that “we have not entered into this decision lightly” and attempted to explain why the final decision was made to bring Lasseter on board following sexual harassment allegations.

“I know many of you are aware of John’s admitted mistakes in his prior role helming [Pixar and Disney],” Ellison wrote. “John has been forthright in taking ownership of his behavior, apologized for his actions and has spent the past year on sabbatical analyzing and improving his workplace behavior…We employed outside counsel to thoroughly investigate the allegations, which we considered serious and have warranted our full attention as we made this important decision. The senior leadership team and I have all carefully evaluated the findings of this extensive investigation.”

“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 continued. “We are certain that John has learned valuable lessons and is ready to prove his capabilities as a leader and a colleague.”

Ellison concluded his memo by writing he is “very hopeful and excited about what the coming years will bring.” The CEO announced Skydance would also be hosting a town hall for all Skydance Animation staffers to talk openly on the matter and about Lasseter’s transition into the company.

Head over to Deadline to read Lasseter’s memo in its entirety.

Time’s Up reacted to the hiring with the following statement: “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.”

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