Disney recently announced the somewhat scandalous departure of creative giant John Lasseter from his position as Chief Creative Officer at Disney and Pixar. Initially, there was some ambiguity regarding whether Lasseter would return, or be replaced, and by whom. Now the veil has been lifted as Disney has officially named the two people who will take over Lasseter’s positions at the company.
The new Chief Creative Officer at Walt Disney Animation Studios will be Jennifer Lee, the Oscar-winning director and writer, famous for her work on Frozen. In discussing her vision moving forward at the company, Lee said, “My hope is to support the incredible talent we have, find new voices, and work together to tell original stories.”
Over at Pixar, the new Chief Creative Officer will be Pete Docter, another director and writer who won Oscars for his work on Up and Inside Out. Docter made this statement about his new position, “I am fortunate to work alongside some of the most talented people on the planet, and together we will keep pushing animation in new directions, using the latest technology to tell stories we hope will surprise and delight audiences around the world.” Docter has been at Pixar for almost two decades; only slightly less time than Lasseter who had been at Pixar from the start.
John Lasseter, the creative powerhouse behind Toy Story, Cars, and Frozen, left Disney under controversial circumstances. Though Lasseter only officially cited “missteps” as the reason for his departure, it’s pretty clear what the nature of those missteps were. According to the New York Times, it was reported that Lasseter had made some employees uncomfortable with excessive touching and unnecessary comments regarding physical appearances. At first, it seemed that Lasseter would only be taking a six-month sabbatical, but questions as to his return remained unanswered. Now it’s clear that Lasseter’s exit will indeed be a permanent one, in what appears to be another entertainment leader exposed and taken down for inappropriate conduct.
In the statement that announced the new positions for Lee and Docter, Walt Disney Studios Chairman Alan Horn said, “Pete, the genius creative force behind Up, Inside Out, and Monsters, Inc., has been an integral part of Pixar almost since the beginning and is a huge part of its industry-leading success. Jenn, in bringing her bold vision to the boundary-breaking Frozen, has helped infuse Disney Animation with a new and exciting perspective.” So it seems that people at Disney are optimistic about the transition from Lasseter onto some new creative executives. It will be interesting to see how the new leadership will effect the media giants they now head up.