In a meeting at Paramount Animation on Monday, the division’s president Mireille Soria reassured her staff that they will not have to work with John Lasseter, the newly-hired head of Skydance Animation.
Paramount Animation is set to co-produce and release Skydance’s first animated feature, Luck, directed by Alessandro Carloni, and that deal remains in place, despite the new development.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, which broke the story, Soria’s “reassurances were not presented as a corporate edict, but rather represented Paramount Animation president Mirielle Soria’s own feelings about Lasseter’s hiring as she provided a forum for employees to express any questions and concerns of their own.”
At the meeting, Soria told her staff that she was “furious” at Skydance’s decision to hire Lasseter as their new head of animation, and told her staff that no one should feel obligated to speak or work with Lasseter if he requests input from Paramount Animation’s team.
Lasseter was hired by Skydance despite a long list of allegations accusing him of sexual harassment and other actions that would in some legal situations be considered sexual assault. The organization Time’s Up has described Skydance’s hiring of Lasseter as “condoning abuse” while Women in Animation president Marge Dean said she was “shocked and distressed” by the hiring.
THR’s report goes on to say that while Paramount Animation and Skydance do not have a formal creative partnership, Soria and her team had been providing creative notes on the development of Luck. At the meeting that took place on Monday, Soria said that her team would no longer be providing notes for Carloni’s film, which “pulls back the curtain on the millennia-old battle between the organizations of good luck and bad luck that secretly affects our daily lives.”
Soria, who took over as president of Paramount Animation in summer of 2017, has 30+ years of experience in the film and animation industry, including more than half of that time at Dreamworks Animation, where she was the lead producer of the hit Madagascar franchise, and produced other films including Home, Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron, and Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie. For a time, she was also co-president of Dreamworks feature animation. Earlier in her career, she was the vice president of production at Disney, where she managed the development and production of The Mighty Ducks, Cool Runnings, and the 1994 live-action adaptation of The Jungle Book.
Her team at Paramount Animation includes numerous women executives, among them, Sandra Rabins, executive vp; Emily Nordwind, vp production and development; Katherine MacDonald, vp production and marketing; and Maya Kambe, creative executive.
Photo: Damné Jesús Pérez Irigoyen.