The Walt Disney Company has found a unique way to deal with the sticky situation over the fate of John Lasseter: release a children’s book narrated by and starring the sabbatical-loving chief creative officer of Walt Disney and Pixar animation studios.
The illustrated kids’ book Disney Parks Presents Jungle Cruise stars Lasseter as the skipper of the Jungle Cruise attraction at Disneyland, a job that he actually held in the 1970s. It’s due in bookstores July 3.
The story behind the making of the book may be more interesting than the book itself. Here’s what we know: apparently, the book was already illustrated and mostly completed last November when Lasseter was accused of groping, kissing, and otherwise harassing women for over a decade.
Journalist Richard Rushfield, who publishes the entertainment industry newsletter The Ankler reported the rest of story in today’s edition of his newsletter:
According to an Ankler Friend on the inside, when the Lasseter news broke last November, most of the album and the art around it had already been completed. But as more and more came out, some people involved in the project began to feel uneasy about the notion that the executive with such unsavory stories now circulating about him should be fronting a children’s storybook and record.
People involved in the project created new art that removed his face from the package. When higher-ups learned about that the overhaul, fireworks broke out between the senior Lasseter loyalists at the top and those working on the album project.
Despite the internal tug-of-war at Disney, it appears from both the Amazon listing and the official Disney publishing website that the original art featuring Lasseter’s likeness — and a nametag with the name “John” – has been restored. If the book does make it to bookstores, it’s destined to be a collector’s item for all the wrong reasons, so pre-order your copy today. It’s currently ranked as the #1 New Release in Amazon’s Nursery Rhymes section.