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Artist RightsBusinessPixar

Female Disney Exec: I Didn’t Realize Part Of My Job Description Was “Being Groped By John Lasseter”

John Lasseter took a sabbatical last week over actions that he described as “missteps,” but those words grossly understated his actions.

A new report published this morning in Deadline offers new details of Lasseter’s “missteps.”

Here’s a rundown of the new allegations by former Disney and Pixar executives:

  • Lasseter was not allowed to attend film wrap parties without handlers to prevent him from behaving inappropriately toward women.
  • Lasseter had an “obsession” with the young actresses who portrayed the Disney Fairies (the product line inspired by Tinkerbell), and he insisted that the actresses be flown to New York for an event. A former Pixar executive was assigned to be an escort when Lasseter took the actresses to drink and party. The exec observed that Lasseter would hug the fairies for extended periods of time and make other kinds of physical contact. “He was inappropriate with the fairies,” the person told Deadline. “We had to have someone make sure he wasn’t alone with them.”
  • On another trip to New York for Toy Fair, Lasseter physically harassed a female executive in Disney’s consumer products division, and one person “saw Lasseter pull the female executive tightly to him and move his hands over her body.” The woman tried to laugh off the situation, telling her colleagues that she didn’t realize part of her job description was “being groped by John Lasseter.”
  • A former female executive told Deadline: “He’s very tactile in a weird way. He would rub my leg in a meeting … It was creepy and weird. It got to the point where I wouldn’t sit next to him in a meeting, because it undermined everything I said.”

(Photo: Shutterstock.com)

  • He’s a married man with children, he runs two family-friendly animation studios, and he’s been doing animation for over 30 years: how did he not foresee that this behavior was inappropriate and set a bad example??

    • GuestGhost

      Not only that, but how is it he was able to act like this so openly for 30 years, and they let him become head of a huge company? Why wasn’t he axed years ago?

      • Anna Stasek

        Because “me too” happened, cultural evolution…. etc… We’re still in the gray areas of gender equality.

      • tazzman

        You might not like the answer: “years ago” this behavior was tolerated much more than today. That’s why he wasn’t fired back in the late eighties.

    • JonBoy

      So many gross people out there who think they’re adults, but they’re not, just man babies – now we know Lasseter is one of them.
      It’s baffling that someone with his image and responsibility would act this way and think it’s okay. How do you act this way at work and then return home and play happy family? The mental disconnect is hard to imagine.
      I’m angry at the man for this horrible infantile behaviour, it’s disappointing on so many levels.

    • David

      It happened because John lives in a bubble , he’s very rich, and he made other people very rich , people who were willing to keep his bubble afloat because he made them very rich … but now for some reason these people want John out of the way , so the bubble has been burst . And John floats away on his Golden Parachute , and life goes on … this behavior was not “more tolerated” years ago … it’s always been bad behavior that is not tolerated , except when it is for people who make companies very rich. Read some history about Hollywood .

  • elliot Lobell

    It’s incredibly unsettling that Disney knew this was happening and let him go around with an “escort”

    Just makes you wonder about Disney execs as a whole…

    • alsott

      Reminds me a bit of how DC Comics handled their own recent sexual harassment situation. Should’ve investigated and fired the guy. Their genius solution to prevent him from harassing female employees was the obligatory “sensitivity training” and—you guessed it– not hiring any more female employees in his division. Yup, they actively avoided hiring women because of what he did.

      It’s stories like this and the current John Lasseter story that make me believe the entertainment industry as a whole has moral bankruptcy problem behind all their “heart and artistic integrity.”

    • Barrett

      Reminds me of the Catholic church “handling” pedophile priests by trying to manage them instead of expelling them.

      It seems that any large organization is vulnerable to this kind of thing, unless everyone at the upper echelons is willing to call out and if necessary expel one of their own if they are committing repeated acts of harassment or abuse. It really darkens my opinion of Pixar and Disney, knowing that they permitted this instead of doing something, ANYthing to punish John, even if it were done “privately.” They could have put things into his contract, or the board could have overridden him on certain things to send a message. But it seems like instead it was tolerated like Weinstein.

    • Polecat

      I remember reading some nasty stories years ago about Disney’s poor handling of sexual violence in its enterprises in general, including pedos working both at the parks and the animation division, and the infamous male-on-male rapes (called “hazing” at the time, but that’s not the right word for unwanted penetration) at the Disneyworld fire company, resulting in a lawsuit that Disney fought tooth and nail. It was in a book called “Disney: The Mouse Betrayed,” and it’s true that that book did have some political bias…but the stuff I’m talking about was meticulously backed up with supporting legal documents.

      They do have some wonderful creative output, no doubt about it, but Carl Hiaasen is dead-on when he portrays them as ruthless and mercenary in his novels.

      • Barrett

        As much as I love the history of the Disney Studio and their creative work in many media, I am always willing to give a fair shake to any claims of negative stuff about them, because I am not a Pollyanna about how business and Hollywood works. But the book you mention (and acknowledge has political bias) was written by the guy behind “Clinton Cash” and is a major contributor to Breitbart. That’s a pedigree that I’m afraid disqualifies the work entirely in my book. I would however be interested in seeing any direct links to court cases, police reports or direct witness testimony, I just can’t stomach anything by Schweizer

  • Pedro Nakama

    Maybe after 6 months he’ll be put on display in a pen at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

  • C

    Dang. You like to keep a shred of doubt/hope in some of these guys- that hopefully, as wrong and unacceptable as ANY sort of harassment is, that maybe, hopefully, it’s not as bad as one may think/fear… And then you find out indeed it is- worse, even. SMH… I’m not sympathizing with him but I can’t imagine why a completely sane guy would choose to behave this way. I know they DO but I just have a hard time wrapping my head around it. What’s his deal? Is he just an a**hole/pig? Is it because he had money and power in the industry/Hollywood? An addiction/attitude that he let grow/spiral? Very sad that he turned out to be such a Porky Pig.

    • Andres Molina

      Keep Porky Pig out of this please.

      • Sakata (D)

        I agree with you. Porky Pig is an adorable and almost inoffensive character.

        • Capital_7

          Who refuses to cover his lower body.

          • Sakata (D)

            But Porky is still more decent than John Lasseter, ultimately. Lol.

          • Capital_7

            Well, that’s true. What a year it’s been, huh? Whew.

        • CleverNameandnumber
        • Polecat

          He would never treat people so d-d-dis-d-dis-disr-disrespec–badly.

    • Marc Hendry

      yeah, if it was just the hugging, that might have been a genuine misunderstanding. The leg-touching and kissing is harder to understand though.
      I was a big fan of Lassetter up until this week, but it’d take a LOT to win my respect back (not that I’M anybody).
      If he DID publicly accept accountability, make it up to everyone affected in a meaningful way, and make sure it never happens again, that would be something. But even if he did want to do that, accepting blame of any kind is a no-no in PR

  • Andres Molina

    It went from unwanted kissing and hugging to full on groping.

    Sigh… And did the rainbow fade? 😖😖😖

  • Andres Molina

    I will bet this whole decades long misconduct started out as a minor inner addiction that eventually went out of spiral. The Pixar gang, including his fellow directors and execs should’ve addressed and dealt with the problem when the misconduct first started, assuming it did start out as a minor addiction, but what do I know, I never been at Pixar before so who knows how it all started. At this point, if the truth does end up being worse than they we think , then being fired is how it must be dealt with. One could wonder where it all went wrong and how it started. I love Pixar, but massive changes have to be made of they want to flourish. And if John does return, things will never be the same, but only time will really tell whether he really can get his act together or if termination is the way to go.

    • Sakata (D)

      I totally agree with you. I’m also a fan of Disney and Pixar, but it’s unacceptable that employees are subjected to humiliation and harassment and nothing is done about it.

    • Anonymous

      I heard from someone back in 2005 that all of the higher-ups at Pixar were scamming on the interns in the company.

      • Barrett

        Now by “scamming”, do you mean “hitting on ” or “mac-ing on” them? (What once upon a time was referred to as “making a pass at” someone?) Or were they pulling some kind of scam on the interns as far as job opportunity or money changing hands? I’m honestly asking, because I’ve never heard “scamming on” used in terms to someone trying to get sexual with someone.

  • Sakata (D)

    One of the saddest parts of all of this is that, even though it became public that Disney knew about Lasseter’s sexual harassment and tried to stifle them, Disney will suffer almost no harm.

    So far I have not seen, for example, any boycott being announced. If we search the word “Disney” in Google, in the “News” section of the “last 24 hours,” out of every 100 Disney-related news, only 7 is related to the John Lasseter’s scandal. Almost all recent Disney news talks about Mulan’s live-action, Avengers: Infinite War, Coco, Star Wars, possible purchase from Fox…

    It’s not that I’m supporting boycotts at Disney. For example: I, Brazilian, am looking forward to watching “Coco” in theaters in January. But that does not mean I approve of Disney’s business conduct … the company’s policy and the way women and people of different ethnicities need to change.

    • Andres Molina

      Time will tell whether John can completely turn himself around or if termination is the way to go.

    • Thinwheat

      You don’t support Disney’s business conduct, but you’re going to give them your business? You’re doing the exact same thing the Disney execs did, you’re saying you don’t like the behavior, but then you’re not doing anything about it. Don’t see Coco.

      • Bob

        Hmm with that logic you would probably boycott everything in your life. A lot of people rely on the success of these films so they can have contributed income… for every scumbag there are a thousand more good people who just want to work in the animation or film industry. Do you want to boycott the nice people too?

        • Thinwheat

          “Boycott everything?” I think you may misunderstand me.
          You’re treating my logic as if it were an extreme. If I were to do the same in turn and treat your logic as an extreme, you would boycott nothing.

          You would protest no wrongdoing group or person if you knew there was someone innocent who might be affected by your protest. You would do nothing for those same innocent, good people working with Lasseter and are in danger of being assaulted by him.

          I want good, deserving artists to get paid, I want to see good films, but more than that, I want my daughter and everyone in the animation industry and elsewhere, present and future, to know that behavior like this won’t be tolerated. That people like Lasseter won’t simply get away with a slap on the wrist.

          Disney and Pixar care most about money, not about disgruntled posts on websites or people carrying signs. If they don’t lose Lasseter, they won’t be getting my business.

          • Bob

            I don’t disagree with the sentiment… realistically no one is boycotting these movies and outside if he animation industry i think people mildly care, unfortunately. My point is if hypothetically everyone stopped seeing these movies, ultimately the execs would lay off everyone and give themselves massive bonuses. Yay. Obviously corporations don’t care about people arguing on an online forum, but if you really want to “make a difference,” encouraging people to not see the films is unrealistic and damaging to more than just the wrong doers. The entertainment industry is a massive ship to turn, but changes are being made and starts with bringing these subjects up. Generationally things will shift. Ideally sexual predators would be held accountable.

      • Charlotte

        If you’re going yo boycott anything, don’t boycott Coco. Representation is something we need more of, and unfortunately, Hollywood’s mentality is:

        “white = relatable = successful = more” and “any other ethnicity/race = ‘not relatable’ to the (white) audience = gamble on varying degrees = less likely to appear in popular media”

        Disney owns a lot of things now, even things you might not be aware of. For example, here in Britain, we had a morning show called GMTV hosted by British presenters. It ran from 1993 – 2010, and aired on ITV Channel 3 (a British channel). However, GMTV was backed by several companies, including The Walt Disney Company. Never did you see the Disney logo or name, but Disney had a share in it nonetheless.

        The Walt Disney Company is the parent company of quite the collection of subsidiaries, and sometimes preferring not to associate the products with the Disney name directly (hence why you never see the logo or name). An example of this is Touchstone. Disney wanted to branch out, but their image was too child-friendly to do the things they wanted to do. So in the 80s, they created Touchstone to distribute these titles instead.

        ….boycotting Disney will not only be extremely hard, but would also require an extensive amount of research.

        I would suggest to contact them and let them know exactly how you feel directly instead.

  • Mi name is Rio

    Ok, I think Disney has enough ammo to fire squad Lasseter. We don’t need more press on the disgusting and despicable acts commited by him. Like seriously, kick him ou already Disney! What are you waiting for? Each day gone by is another nail on your own coffin!

    Once he goes the way Eisner went, everybody will realize his “talent” was riding on the backs of very creative but exploited artists.

    • Mesterius

      I can understand that you’re upset, but comparing Lasseter to Eisner makes no sense. Despite Lasseter’s faults – and that includes several movies, too – his creative instincts were/are clearly better than Eisner’s.

      • Valjean

        Perhaps, but Eisner didn’t let 2D animation die during his tenure at Disney.

        • Revy

          You make it sound like Eisner had a personal stake in keeping 2D animation alive. He didn’t care one way or the other about the movies outside the profits they earned. If he stuck around longer, he’d have been all over computer animation once he saw how much money those movies made. Read James B. Stewart’s “Disney Wars” book and realize that ALL of the creative control was basically Katzenberg. Eisner was much more involved in the ABC television network and live action movies. He may have sat in on feature animation meetings, but by all accounts, nobody enjoyed his input even on the 2D features.

          • Matthew

            And if it hadn’t been for Roy E. Disney, animation there might have ended altogether after THE BLACK CAULDRON.

        • Uh, didn’t he? Disney switched to CG with Chicken Little, which came out in 2005, the same year Eisner left the company. (After he left, Lasseter tried to revive 2D a couple times, but The Princess and the Frog underperformed at the box office, and Winnie the Pooh outright flopped.)

          • Valjean

            Winnie the Pooh flopped because it had Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 to contend with. Anyone who would have allowed the film to be slated for that month would have known it was suicide.

        • Mesterius

          Valjean: “Perhaps, but Eisner didn’t let 2D animation die during his tenure at Disney.”

          Yes he did. The Disney company decided to abandon 2D animation in favor of CGI in late 2002, after the dismal commercial failure of “Treasure Planet”. By the time their first CGI feature rolled out in 2005, Eisner had left – but the decision to convert to CGI was made during his tenure.

          Lasseter, once he came onboard, tried to RESURRECT the tradition of 2D animation that Eisner and his cohorts had left behind. Sadly, he failed; because The Princess and the Frog didn’t make enough of a splash at the box office. Once that had happened, it was only a matter of time before the powers that be at Disney (i.e. the powers ABOVE Lasseter) decided to let most of the 2D animators go.

          • Valjean

            You make it sound like a conscious decision was made to abandon 2D animation in late 2002, but there’s no evidence of that being the case. Rather, it’s much more likely that fewer 2D proposals were made after Home on the Range (the last 2D feature, not Treasure Planet) flopped and none were accepted until Princess and the Frog.

            It’s common knowledge Lasseter wanted to resurrect 2D animation. But it was under HIS watch that Princess and the Frog was released during the same week as a new Harry Potter movie, and the same thing happen two years later with Winnie the Pooh. Is it any wonder those films didn’t meet expectations when they were faced against freaking Harry Potter?

          • Mesterius

            Valjean, there is TONS of evidence of that being the case. You can find news articles about it all over the internet. The Disney company decided consciously (and announced publicly) in the early 2000s that they would drop 2D in favor of CGI. The decision was made because 2D animated features were (in general) flopping, while CGI features were booming.

            And if you think Lasseter was the one who decided that The Princess and the Frog should be released simultaneously with a new Harry Potter flick AND James Cameron’s Avatar (or for that matter, that Pooh would also open against Potter), you’re even more naive than I thought.

          • Matthew

            I will never understand why they needed two competing CGI studios under the same corporate umbrella.

  • Robert Holmén

    He needed handlers because of his hands.

    I think this all could have been avoided if they just superglued his hands together in one of those meditation poses before each meeting. Very California.

  • Capital_7

    Yeah, he ain’t comin’ back.

  • Guest

    I am a man, I work with female associates, we interact throughout the day. I don’t need a handler….him needing one should have been a hell of a red flag.

  • Ed Shmedly

    I mean the guy even used to work at Disney and he didn’t know the famous Disney saying…

    “Do not dip your pen into the company’s ink”?

  • Mario Bros

    He groped Hayao Miyazaki as well. Proof:
    https://youtu.be/_oKZWJIyraw?t=29

    Poor man…

    • michel manders

      if you think this is proof….everybody/anybody ….could be guilty ….if you say this is inappropriately behavior….sorry to me it’s enthusiasm….

  • All these giant mouth images of Lasseter are hilarious.

  • Drake L

    100% believe the victims should sue Disney and Pixar as well as Lasseter. I’m not the only one tired of hearing shitty things from Disney every decade meanwhile they continue to slip shit under the rug. Every story I have read has revealed that higher ups knew about this and didn’t do anything about it. If Disney AND Pixar fired Harasseter ages ago, then women in the work place would not have to experience such treatment.

    There are people running that company that you might not even know the name of and they are crooks and criminals, doing shady business with crime rings and most likely involving drugs and prostitution. I don’t think a majority of these Hollywood Entertainment companies are squeaky clean by the slightest bit…AND that’s why they’ll keep someone who makes them money in a position where the individual can continue their sick actions as these rich pricks run off with not just thousands but billions, fuck maybe trillions of dollars.

    I say we not only continue to march and protest sexual harassment but to protest Hollywood and lay the blame on the execs and presidents who hide the complaints away in a safe vault next to their stacks of cash.

  • michel manders

    but that is the problem…this clip is going viral as of being proof…

  • KillerMTou

    It’s really horrifying that this ”genius” who were among the pioneers of cgi which changed the film industry forever and also made mainstream animation the way it is today would do these awful stuff to his own employees.
    However, I’m not that surprised unfortunately. This is not the first of Lasseter’s incredibly irresponsible abuse of power. Remember the Catmull Wage-Fixing scandal? Lasseter is behind this one as well. That was my first true gut-wrecking releasing that the higher-ups behind movies such as ”Cars” and ”The Good Dinosaur” were far from perfect.
    Even if I still love what Lasseter DID for the industry as a whole and I will continue to support PIxar for their upcoming movies, I do not believe Lasseter or most executives are good people when they live in luxurious environments there they can do awful things because of their wealth/status.