Disney/Pixar Head John Lasseter Announces Temporary Leave After Possible Misconduct

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   Jason LaVeris  FilmMagic  Getty Images

Los Angeles California Jason LaVeris FilmMagic Getty Images

"It's never easy to face your missteps, but it's the only way to learn from them".

Lasseter, who co-founded Pixar in 1979 when it was under the purview of Lucasfilm, issued a memo on Tuesday, Nov. 20 to Disney/Pixar staff announcing his leave of absence and apologizing for his "missteps", reports The Hollywood Reporter.

In a memo left for colleagues at the studio, the Academy Award-winning filmmaker apologised for any actions that had made them feel uncomfortable, including unwanted hugs.

A spokesperson for Disney released the following statement in support of Lasseter's decision to step away from his post: "We are committed to maintaining an environment in which all employees are respected and empowered to do their best work".

In his memo, Mr. Lasseter said he is taking a "six-month sabbatical" in order to "start taking better care of myself, to recharge and be inspired, and ultimately return with the insight and perspective I need to be the leader you deserve". One longtime Pixar employee says Lasseter, who is well-known for hugging employees and others in the entertainment community, was also known by insiders for "grabbing, kissing, making comments about physical attributes".

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Disney, in a statement quoted by Reuters news agency, said it appreciated his "candor and honest apology" and supported his decision to take a leave of absence.

Iger has often credited the pair with reviving Disney's animation business, producing such hits as 2013's Frozen, a major success in theatres and a huge boost to Disney's consumer products business, as were follow-up Pixar hits such as Cars and Finding Nemo.

Multiple sources were quoted in the report alleging that Lasseter was a heavy drinker at company social events and that some women at Pixar knew to turn their heads quickly when encountering him to avoid his kisses. Some used a move they called "the Lasseter" to prevent their boss from putting his hands on their legs.

"She was bent over and [had her arm] across her thigh", he says. The best I can describe it is as a defensive posture ... The Wall Street Journal had even cheekily detailed his proclivity for hugs in a 2011 story and photo spread subtitled "A Sampling from among the 48 hugs administered by Pixar chief John Lasseter during the WSJ's day-long adventure with him". "Just invading the space".

He is also credited as an executive producer on Pixar's next film, Coco, which is released in the United States on Wednesday and the United Kingdom on 18 January.

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