John Lasseter, the chief creative officer behind Walt Disney Animation Studios and Pixar, announced on November 21 he will take a six-month leave of absence. Following that reveal, writers Rashida Jones and Will McCormack have confirmed their plans to leave the production of Pixar’s Toy Story 4.

JOHN LASSETER TAKES A SIX-MONTH HIATUS

Pixar, Walt Disney Animation Studios and Disneytoon Studios personnel obtained a memo on Tuesday explaining Lasseter’s decision to take a six-month hiatus from his jobs. Within the note, he offered his apologies to whomever “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.”

He later adds, directly addressing his staff, how he hopes his six-month sabbatical will present him with the opportunity to better himself, and ultimately help provide his team with the leader they deserve.

Lasseter is a pivotal individual to both Pixar and Disney, having been an essential member for the former studio since the original 1995 Toy Story. Moreover, Lasseter was appointed to oversee Disney’s internal animation studio in 2006, and his tenure oversaw key successes like Frozen and Moana.

The Hollywood Reporter reported stories of Lasseter’s misconduct shortly following the announcement of his temporary departure, noting how Jones and McCormack left production of Toy Story 4 due to an “unwanted advance.” However, the duo talked with The New York Times, explaining the true reason they left was because of Pixar’s neglect of minorities and women:

“There is so much talent at Pixar, and we remain enormous fans of their films. However, it is also a culture where women and people of color do not have an equal creative voice.”

They encouraged Pixar to become “leaders in bolstering, hiring and promoting more diverse and female storytellers and leaders,” hoping “all those who have felt like their voices could not be heard in the past” can “feel empowered.”

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