Thursday, April 26, 2018

End of "Sabbatical"?

John Lasseter is coming to the end of his Mouse-compelled Time Out:

As the most powerful man in animation nears the end of a six-month "sabbatical" for personal "missteps," CEO Bob Iger must soon determine [Mr. Lasseter's] fate. ...

At this point, some insiders believe Iger is quietly preparing to name new heads of Pixar and Disney Animation — those floated include Docter for Pixar and Rich Moore and Jennifer Lee at Disney Animation. But some veterans are angry, saying that the company allowed Lasseter to dominate — and to take credit for the work of others — for too long, only acting in the wake of the #MeToo movement. ...

I was in the camp of classical cynics who said: "Lasseter will come back; the Disney Company spent a lot of money to acquire Pixar and he's just too valuable for the conglomerate to toss him overboard."

Now I wonder.

John Lasseter is and was a talent. He's got a long track record of hit animated features that proves he knows how to put popular movie franchises together. But he's also a man with demonstrated appetites for wine, women and good times, and that now is a problem for the corporation that made him rich.

In the post Harvey Weinstein era, the post Bill O'Reilly and Bill Cosby eras, can Disney afford to bring John back? Even if he's wearing an ankle bracelet?

Maybe Disney has already determined a Plan B. They will let John go, then quietly engage him (from time to time?) as a consultant. Or maybe they will simply thank him for his service, hand him an engraved Mickey Mouse statuette along with a retiree's silver pass for Disneyland, and let him slip away into the sunset.

Whatever the outcome, we will discover what it is soon after the six-month time-clock runs out.

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