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Walt Disney Co. Declines To Say Whether It Is Investigating Allegations Against John Lasseter

The Walt Disney Company has thrown up a wall of silence around John Lasseter.

Following last week’s reports of long-term inappropriate behavior toward women, Walt Disney Animation Studios and Pixar chief creative officer John Lasseter admitted to “missteps” and said he would take a six-month sabbatical. The only comment the Disney Company has provided is that it “fully supports” Lasseter’s sabbatical.

In a new piece published in Variety this morning, Disney maintained its silent treatment. It declined to tell the Hollywood trade publication whether it intended to launch an investigation into the accusations against Lasseter. It also refused to say whether Lasseter would continue to receive a salary during his leave of absence.

It is not yet clear how – or even if – the Walt Disney Company intends to address the situation, or whether the company is capable of self-policing sexual misconduct at its top executive levels. What is becoming evident though is that many people at Disney had known about and tolerated Lasseter’s behavior for years.

In one incident, reported by Vanity Fair, Lasseter allegedly French kissed and fondled a female Disney employee against her will, which led to a phone meeting of top Disney execs including Walt Disney Animation Studios (WDAS) and Pixar president Ed Catmull and WDAS production chief Andrew Millstein. “The subject of the phone call was, ‘Shit, what are we going to do about John?,’” a person who was on the call told Vanity Fair. “Lasseter is the crazy-horny 13-year-old who you have to keep in check all the time. ”

“They’ve known for a long time,” an unidentified source told Variety today. “It has gone all the way to the top. I know personally that Bob [Iger, Disney CEO] was aware. … Everybody was aware. They just didn’t do anything about it.”

Many rank-and-file employees at both Disney and Pixar animation studios were also aware of Lasseter’s behavior, as confirmed by former Disney animation artist Minkyu Lee on Twitter:

Minkyu Lee tweet.

Sources have additionally told Cartoon Brew that they believe there has been at least one financial settlement from the Walt Disney Company to a woman, stemming from Lasseter’s actions.

In the Variety piece, authors Gene Maddaus and Ricardo Lopez point out that, “In the absence of an internal investigation of Lasseter, much depends on whether Pixar employees come forward with on-the-record allegations. Either way, the company will have to weigh the risks of hanging on to Lasseter against the benefits of allowing him to continue to shepherd films onto the screen.”

For now, a well-fortified wall of silence remains around Lasseter.

The question is: How long will it last?

(Photo: Shutterstock)

  • Pedro Nakama

    John Lasseter is both Woody and Buzz.
    Woody because he’s constantly horny.
    Buzz because he’s constantly drunk.

    • Barrett

      Thumbs up.

  • I imagine that this could be very bad for Disney’s public image if they don’t do something about Lasseter. They might be very good at keeping abuses hushed up from the inside, but it’s too late for Lasseter. Stories have been leaked, and it’s all over the press. I can’t imagine that people will take kindly to him waltzing back to work after this. And, of course he’s replaceable.

  • My name is Rio

    I personally will boycott evey disney release till Lasseter is out, it doesn’t matter how they (cover) paint it

    • Thalesourus

      The Southern Baptists boycotted Disney some time ago and Disney didn’t even notice. Eisner et al were brought in to make Disney big enough to be invulnerable to attacks – either from outside business interests or organized moral outrage. He did an excellent job of it.

    • HN

      Lol. Admit that you just don’t like Disney to begin with. You’re more of a generic Illumination type of person. Your loss, not Disney’s.

    • Chris Holmes

      If there is one thing in America today that is more nauseating than shameless virtue signaling I can’t think of it.
      There are teams of talented artists who worked their tails off on what is evidently a beautiful film which celebrates the best aspects of humanity, and you boil it down to one guy who, at this point, blatantly acted like a boor. Because he could. Which is no surprise – its quite common. Lots of money amplifies the worst aspects of any person’s personality. Lets hope no one suffered more than inappropriate touching or hugs that were held too long by an old guy on the sauce. There are far worse things in life.
      If you need a lesson on products you buy that have an easily calculated toll of suffering, then look up how many children were put to work in mines, or how many sweatshops denied people basic human rights to make the iPhone that you look at every day.
      Try some perspective and not hyperbole.

      • Revy

        Thank you, Chris. I bet “Rio” typed his response on a smartphone made from conflict minerals, but I doubt he’s held a picket sign outside an Apple store recently.

        “…it doesn’t matter how they cover it.”

        So basically, you’ve made up your mind that Lasseter NEEDS to be fired, without any investigation of your own or allowing Disney to investigate and due process to unfold. It doesn’t matter if all of the allegations come out as false – you will not hear it, because in your mind, it’s “fake news” and Lasseter clearly just needs to be fired or you won’t go see another Disney flick.

        Slacktivism at it’s finest.

        • AmidAmidi

          If you have read the stories, you’d know that the highest levels of Disney management (as well as rank-and-file) have known about Lasseter for years, and sources have told Cartoon Brew that there have been settlement deals. Disney has no interest in investigating because they are fully aware and have been trying to keep it quiet for years.

        • Adam Davis

          ” I bet “Rio” typed his response on a smartphone made from conflict
          minerals, but I doubt he’s held a picket sign outside an Apple store

          So a person who didn’t boycott something for a good cause previously should never do so in the future? Or a person trying to do something about some cases of corporate corruption but not others is worse than if they’d never done anything about any of them? What sense does that make? I’m not trying to discourage you from seeing Pixar films in the future, but I feel compelled to point out shoddy arguments when I see them.

      • Marbles471

        “If there is one thing in America today that is more nauseating than shameless virtue signaling I can’t think of it.”

        You really, seriously can’t?
        For real?
        You can’t think of anything more nauseating?


        I wonder if you perhaps were tuning out the news for a few weeks during August. Maybe you’ve heard of a little city called Charlottesville?

        I’m sorry, but as irritating as some kinds of overreaction can sometimes be, to focus on that trivial stuff when LITERAL neo-Nazis and white supremacists feel emboldened by the current political climate and are marching in the streets is absolutely mad.

        You want nauseating? White supremacists being implicitly encouraged and supported by people in the highest levels of government—-THAT’S nauseating. And EXTREMELY dangerous.

        Keep perspective here.

    • The Disney corporation

      An admirable stance. Unfortunately just this morning we received confirmation that a local man plans on watching all disney releases TWICE which will neutralise any boycott you have planned. Perhaps if you don’t watch disney films 3 times we can really start to punish this evil man

    • My name is Rio

      So by everybody’s logic here I should buy anything the Disney monopoly makes becsuse they hold a lot of people for a paycheck/ransom? And they are not worse than apple and their contractor’s woking conditions, interesting…

      Guess everybody should put the same pro-disney attitute towards independent arttists that work twice as hard, create way better stuff but have no brain washing machine like Disney’s to skew everybody’s opinion if we are going to talk anout perspective!

      • The Disney corporation

        ‘everyone’s logic’… not I. I’m with you on this. Thank goodness you remain unskewed by the disney brain washing machine. These saps clearly think you should buy anything the Disney monopoly makes becsuse they hold a lot of people for a paycheck/ransom? I mean no one has said that but let’s call a tree a log here… that’s what they mean

  • waterworld

    The idea that Lasseter can return to the studio in six months and everything will be normal is completely bonkers.

    • It won’t be normal, that we all know and agree on. What is to be seen is what will he be like if he really is brought back in the same position (and power) before his absence. If so, he really would need to be on watch at all times to be sure no one else is attacked.

      If he is brought back, and one more incident happens again, it would be a greater disaster than it is right now and Disney will really regret bringing him back.

  • Skip

    John Lasseter is a key person in Disney Animation. I highly doubt that Disney is not taking this matter very seriously.

    This whole story broke then it was first reported that Rashida Jones left Toy Story 4 because of repeated unwanted sexual advances by John Lasseter. This turned out to be a false story as Rashida Jones has since come out and denied that this happened. Which I find interesting because the only reason that this story became a story in the first place was due to a false report. Having said that I do not condone any inappropriate behavior in the work place, but if the strongest piece of evidence against him is not true than at the very least before everyone condemning the man people should be patient enough to hear out the findings of the investigation.

    In recent months there have been a plethora of sexual misconduct accusations which have lead to very powerful people ending their carers. People have accused John Lasseter of sexual misconduct, but if that is true than this is the first sexual misconduct case that appears to have zero sexual misconduct. As far as I know Lasseter has never raped or sexually assaulted anyone, like Harvey Weinstein or Kevin Spacey, He has never exposed himself like Charlie Rose, I have seen no evidence of him being a predator. I have seen no evidence of Lasseter being violent, and I have been no evidence of anyone having their job threatened because of his behavior.
    What I have heard is that he has a drinking problem. I’ve heard that he is a hugger to both men and women that have made some people feel uncomfortable. I have heard that has greeted women with kisses, and I have heard that he has been accused placing his hand on exposed legs. I don’t know what the truth is, though I am certain that it will come out. If these accusations are true, I certainly do not approve of them, and I agree that he deserves whatever punishment that Disney deems worthy. If it turns out that more of these accusations against him are exaggerated or not true like the Rashida Jones example, than maybe it means that people are too quick to rush to judgment.
    Perhaps I’m old fashioned, but I believe in the concept of innocent until proven guilty. If and when it turns out that he is guilty of whatever he is being accused of than everyone will have all the time in the world to condemn him, If it turns out that things are not nearly as bad as they sound, than perhaps he can be redeemed. It just seems like the moment something bad is reported about the man, everyone is all too eager to grab the pitch forks.

  • Andres Molina

    Well, Its already been a week since the claims. Maybe Disney’s silence on the allegations could mean they are giving themselves a second and this time, and really long and hard thought on the case and about what to do with John, and trying to come up with a good solution to resolve this problem, but again what do I really know, I don’t work at Pixar or Disney, and I’m probably playing devil’s advocate just for saying. In case he does get laid off, lets just hope his successor can foster a more fulfilling and ambitious culture.

  • Sakata (D)

    I’m very surprised by the fact that so far no one person ou group of persons has announced a boycott of the Disney and Pixar films because of the Lasseter-related news.

    I’m looking forward to watching “Coco” and I’ll cheer for the success of the film. But I hope that Disney becomes more concerned about its public image and stop trying to protect Lasseter. After all, Lasseter is actually replaceable. The Walt Disney Animation Studios didn’t decline before even with the death of Walt Disney. It wouldn’t be the exit of the Lasseter that will overturn the studios’ projects.

    And, more important than this, It’s time for Disney and Pixar evaluate their concepts of professional and moral safety for their employees (especially for the female employees).

    • HN

      Why would they boycott other Disney films not related to Pixar? What, boycott Disney’s live-action movies, Marvel and Star Wars because of Lasseter? Nonsense. They have nothing to do with him. And realistically speaking, children don’t care about this news really. They have no idea what’s happening. And no celebrity is speaking of boycotting because 1) Disney is a very large company that can give them jobs in the future, 2) I think Lasseter’s leave of absence is a pre-emptive move to avoid further damage. Maybe some think that the leave is the right move. And 3) No named women came forward to complain about Lasseter’s behavior. Have you read any actress or just any women with revealed names who complained? None. All are unnamed. The only one named is Rashida Jones and she even denied the story. So there.

    • The optimist in me hopes that there hasn’t been a call for a boycott because folks realize that a TON of people work on Disney and Pixar’s films, and that animation is very much a “team sport”. You can’t fault the whole team for a bad apple – and I do think that it’s really the writers, directors and pre-production folks who really determine the shape of a film and how good it can possibly turn out.

    • Kirk Hodges

      Watching a Pixar movie is like hearing that “hip” pasture give young girls life advice. A little creepy and very sanctimonious.

  • Matthew

    Fire him and blacklist him or I will never see another Disney movie again.

    • Strong Enough

      so no star wars or marvel movies or pixar movies? you’re braver than me

      • Matthew

        Never was much of a fan of either of the first two but Pixar’s the hardest to go without. At least there’s YouTube and the large number of existing Disney movies and TV shows I already own copies of.

    • The Disney corporation

      Duly noted. We’ll just get the papers in order and then he’s done. Hope to see you back in the theatre soon… by the way we haven’t a ‘black’ list any more, it’s a very very very very very VERY dark ‘blue’ list

  • Doconnor

    There are probably just keeping quiet during the negotiating of the exit agreement.

  • Pennyjpie

    This is such a terrible situation. John Lasseter needs more than just a vacation from work…he needs help. He needs serious help.

    But at the same time, is boycotting the films really the answer? I know people are angry, and they should be…at Lasseter. But hundreds of other people worked on those films, people not involved in this conflict at all. Or even the women who ARE involved somewhere…they all worked on films like Coco. It’s not fair to them to punish the man who did these vile acts by refusing to see the films they worked on. They had a larger hand in these movies than Lasseter did. And to dismiss those films affects them too, not just him.

    I’m not saying you have to like Lasseter, but the others who worked on those movies don’t deserve to have their work not be seen.

    • Netko

      Most of the people who worked on these movies have already been paid and as far as I know, Disney doesn’t give any bonuses to the artists if a movie does well. The biggest profit from this movie is going to be gained by the company itself and people need to stop looking at high-budget games and movies as some artist’s heart and soul and see them for what they are: multi-million dollar projects. I completely disagree with the attitude that nothing should be boycotted because other people are involved in it. Other people will ALWAYS work on these big projects, how in the world are you ever supposed to send a message to a corrupt company or leadership when your only concern is that some little person at the bottom doesn’t feel a thing? If you work for a corrupt company, well, sucks to be you when people want to vote with their wallets to send a message to that company. Waving your finger while still throwing money at someone is only going to get you so far.

      But more importantly, why are we acting like the profits from a movie have anything to do with the people who have worked on the movie and have already been paid for their work?

      • Adam Davis

        But hasn’t Lassetter ALSO already been paid? Don’t think a boycott might lead to the company laying some innocent people off to save money to make up for the decrease in profits due to the boycott? I’m not trying to discourage you or anyone else who wants to boycott because of this, but I feel compelled to point out shoddy arguments when I see them.

        • Netko

          I’m honestly surprised that I need to explain this. This is not merely about preventing Lassetter from getting more money (though I’d be VERY surprised if he was getting paid like any other worker considering his position), it’s about sending Disney a message that leaving people like him in positions of power even after years of knowing about his behavior is not acceptable.
          Also, I care a whole lot more about companies and their bigwigs being punished and ideally destroyed for their immoral practices than about keeping them successful and throwing money their way because “people work there and they might have to look for another job if the company closes”. Oh no, what tragedy, what horror. We shouldn’t expect everyone else to support abusive business practices just to keep people employed there their entire lives. How far does this line of thinking go? If you find that the sausages you’ve been buying have dog meat in them, would you still keep buying them because their company employs people and they might lose their jobs if you stop buying these products? It’s not the end of the world to have to look for another job.

          Of course, a boycott would be useless in this case, since Disney has so much money and influence it isn’t going to feel a thing from a few people protesting. But if we’re talking shoddy arguments, “don’t boycott because massively rich company might fire some of its workers” is the worst of them all that constantly pops up every single time people decide to vote with their wallets and slap companies on their wrists.

  • mashy

    “they believe there has been at least one financial settlement from the
    Walt Disney Company to a woman, stemming from Lasseter’s actions.”

    If that settlement is true then Disney is already hobbled. They might want to crate up Lasseter and express him to Timbuktu before possibly-more-devastating claims come up and the Mouse brand takes a gut punch it cannot recover from.

    Surely management is aware of how quickly turds can hit turbines, in the likes of Louis CK and Charlie Rose. The clock is ticking.

  • For what it’s worth, Roger Friedman claims he has a source who has told him that “Lasseter has already negotiated his exit with parent company, Disney. They’re just waiting until ‘Coco,’ Pixar’s release this weekend, has its Oscar run without interference.”

    • Barrett

      As much as I will miss Lasseter’s influence at the studio, at this point it is probably for the best, not only for women, but for the studio as well. The new details of the type of and extent of John’s actions over many years mean this is no Garrison Keillor “mountain from a molehill” case, this is a pattern of creepy stuff confirmed by multiple people over multiple years. The guy needs to accept the consequences of his actions. It’s not like he’ll be driven to the poorhouse, but maybe if he sobers up and learns a thing or two about consent and appropriate workplace behavior, he can come back to animation as an independent creator or start his own studio if he so wishes someday.

  • Mister Twister

    What is there to investigate? Was there any proof?

  • Anonymous

    According to a Disney artist at last night’s TAG Local 839 union meeting, Disney has paid off the people who filed complaints about Lasseter and has made them sign nondisclosure agreements.

    • Anon

      [Comment removed by editors. Per our commenting guidelines, “It is OK to post with a nickname or alias, but your email address (which we will NEVER share publicly), must be a real, permanent email address. Comments with fake or non-permanent emails will be deleted.”]

  • Troy

    Based on the early comments here is the age old question: “Do we boycott X movie?” The general answer would be “So…..?”

    Attempting to boycott the movie would as many point out hurt the artists as that would affect their livelihood payment. However supporting the movie in the name of helping artists isn’t going to help them if say the animators in question boycott the movie also. What does that say if the Animators boycott the movie but the audience who intended to support the artist watched the movie? Animators aren’t THAT helpless despite the limited ability of the union and stagnant job output. If we believe the report said is true, the artists are (to a degree) able to put up with this like an unreported domestic abuse or in my personal take from this: conditioned to deal with it.

  • BeatItBoyYaBotherMe

    First off: I am so angry and furious for the women/ non-binary PEOPLE that this happened to and I sincerely hope that there will be some form of justice for all of their individual cases. I stand by you and Im f***ing furious that this has been allowed to happen to you for too long. Im also sorry that within the comments section of this post, not one person has said this firstly and not one person is showing a shred of empathy towards the people who have had to suffer Lasseter’s disgusting abuse of power. He’s our Weinstein in terms of position and fame so is it too much to ask for there to be just a little solidarity from the men in our industry who post here?<—-scroll down guys and know it is true.

    No one is up in arms about any of this in any relative way: How about getting mad as hell for the women and non binary who have had to take the hard decision to leave their jobs/the industry because of this pig? Try to put yourselves in that situation: That's your hard work, your money and career being put on the line or on hold against your will, but without the comfort of a huge salary to chill on or a big company like Disney to shelter you and all because one man decided your body was his to do as he pleased. Lasseter has been allowed to continue years of abusive behaviour and will now enjoy a lovely 6 month break on a date he chooses and probably still get paid that exec salary aswell. Guys….sorry to point out the obvious but that is inherently WRONG. He should be considered dead to the industry: Good riddance, denounced and forgotten as quickly and painfully as possible because thats all he deserves.

    As some people have mentioned: It is the animation teams comprised of every person who are LGBTQ2 women and men who made these films great NOT Lasseter alone. So losing one privilaged pervert isnt going to collapse the animation industry<—- Its fine stop worrying about that guys!!! *rolls eyes* What should be a worry, are the people who feel 'strongly' about this incident enough to write in the comments section but dont feel strongly about what matters most. When this sort of thing happens again (and it will so please dont be 'shocked' or in any way oblivious, we realllllly hate that) I dont want to see another: 'This article isnt about me as a man, how can I talk about it in a relevant way that speaks to ME and other men!?' NO. Stand up for your animation peers. Be angry with us! Be angry FOR us and stand up for us when we need it….especially when the abuse has spanned YEARS.

    Enough is enough guys c'mon, its 2017 and we are still asking you to see women/ non-binary as PEOPLE? You should know this by now and shame on you for a stream of comments that not once mentioned how pissed you are for the people this harmed. F*** Lasseter that guy is the worst.

    • Revy

      “No one is up in arms about this is any relevant way.”

      Seriously? You think NO ONE cares about the victims in this endless string of sexual assault cases in Hollywood? We all care – this is horrible. I’ve made several posts on my personal Facebook about how upsetting it is to know female friends of mine are subjected to or at risk of this kind of assault for all these years. But you wouldn’t know that, since you don’t see those posts. All you see is people discussing Lasseter on CB. Are we not allowed to discuss Lasseter and his actions without first eulogizing the women first in every comment we make?

      Also, you’re doing women a disservice with your insistence that members of the “LBGTQ2” community were also harmed – and your repeated use of “non-binary” – when the reality is, only WOMEN were harmed by Lasseter. There are no allegations that I’m aware of that include any gender other than female artists at Disney/Pixar. Let’s shine light only on the evidence at hand to best navigate these murky waters, please.

      • Matthew

        Thank you for this. A man who treated other men that way wouldn’t last two minutes there. He certainly wouldn’t get as far as Lasseter got. That’s heterosexual privilege in a nutshell.