Hollywood's History of Sexual Misconduct

"It’s been brought to my attention that I have made some of you feel disrespected or uncomfortable," the "Toy Story" director says.

Update 7:35pm PT: Rashida Jones told the New York Times she didn't step away from "Toy Story 4" over "unwanted advances," but because of "creatively and, more importantly, philosophical differences."

John Lasseter, head of Pixar and Walt Disney Animation, is taking a six-month leave of absence to reflect on "missteps," he announced to staff on Tuesday.

"I’ve recently had a number of difficult conversations that have been very painful for me. It’s never easy to face your missteps, but it’s the only way to learn from them," he wrote in a memo obtained by The Hollywood Reporter. "It’s been brought to my attention that I have made some of you feel disrespected or uncomfortable. That was never my intent. Collectively, you mean the world to me, and I deeply apologize if I have let you down. I especially want to apologize to anyone who has ever been on the receiving end of an unwanted hug or any other gesture they felt crossed the line in any way, shape, or form. No matter how benign my intent, everyone has the right to set their own boundaries and have them respected."

Although the Oscar-winning animation icon, whose directing credits include "Toy Story," "A Bugs Life" and "Cars," didn't get into many details about those unwanted hugs or how else he made staff uncomfortable, it sounds like another Hollywood sexual harassment scandal.

THR published a story on Tuesday afternoon detailing allegations from anonymous employees. According to the story, Rashida Jones and her writing partner Will McCormack left "Toy Story 4" after Lasseter made an unwanted advance. THR also reported that Lasseter was known for "grabbing, kissing, making comments about physical attributes," and had a tendency to drink heavily at premiere parties and other events.

Women at Pixar allegedly learned to turn their heads quickly to avoid his kisses, and developed a defensive posture they called "the Lasseter" to keep him from putting his hand on their legs when they were sitting next to him.

A former insider described how the executive would hug women for an uncomfortably long time at meetings while whispering in their ear. On one occasion, a photograph of Lasseter posing with an employee allegedly had to be strategically cropped because of, as an anonymous source told THR, "where his hands were."

The latest bombshell in the wave of Hollywood sexual harassment and misconduct revelations dropped a day before Pixar's latest film, "Coco," hits theaters. The movie has an impressive 97 percent critic approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes and is expected to be a Thanksgiving weekend blockbuster.

Read Lasseter's entire memo below:

I have always wanted our animation studios to be places where creators can explore their vision with the support and collaboration of other gifted animators and storytellers. This kind of creative culture takes constant vigilance to maintain. It’s built on trust and respect, and it becomes fragile if any members of the team don’t feel valued. As a leader, it’s my responsibility to ensure that doesn’t happen; and I now believe I have been falling short in this regard.

I’ve recently had a number of difficult conversations that have been very painful for me. It’s never easy to face your missteps, but it’s the only way to learn from them. As a result, I’ve been giving a lot of thought to the leader I am today compared to the mentor, advocate and champion I want to be. It’s been brought to my attention that I have made some of you feel disrespected or uncomfortable. That was never my intent. Collectively, you mean the world to me, and I deeply apologize if I have let you down. I especially want to apologize to anyone who has ever been on the receiving end of an unwanted hug or any other gesture they felt crossed the line in any way, shape, or form. No matter how benign my intent, everyone has the right to set their own boundaries and have them respected.

In my conversations with Disney, we are united in our commitment to always treat any concerns you have with the seriousness they deserve, and to address them in an appropriate manner. We also share a desire to reinforce the vibrant, respectful culture that has been the foundation of our studios’ success since the beginning. And we agree the first step in that direction is for me to take some time away to reflect on how to move forward from here. As hard as it is for me to step away from a job I am so passionate about and a team I hold in the highest regard, not just as artists but as people, I know it’s the best thing for all of us right now. My hope is that a six-month sabbatical will give me the opportunity 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.

I’m immensely proud of this team, and I know you will continue to wow the world in my absence. I wish you all a wonderful holiday season and look forward to working together again in the new year.

John

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