The man who co-founded Pixar and is seen as the creative force behind blockbusters such as the Toy Story and Cars franchises will soon be out of a job at Disney. John Lasseter, 61, has been on leave from parent company Disney since November after allegations of improper workplace behavior surfaced, including his propensity to wrap up everyone he meets in long bear hugs. Disney announced Friday that Lasseter—who previously acknowledged and apologized for his "missteps"—will shift into a vague consulting role through the end of the year and then depart for good, reports the New York Times. Disney execs were wrestling for months with whether to allow Lasseter to return, but Deadline reports on a "gathering sense" among employees that he would not have been welcome.
Disney chief Bob Iger issued a statement that praised Lasseter for "reinventing the animation business, taking breathtaking risks, and telling original, high quality stories that will last forever,” and Lasseter issued one of his own thanking Disney and saying he's "extremely proud" of his work but that it's time to move on. Despite the positive public comments, the move amounts to what the Los Angeles Times describes as "a dramatic unraveling of one of the most storied careers in animation." The story notes that hugs were just a part of the problem, with female employees at Pixar alleging that Lasseter and other senior execs turned a blind eye to a corporate culture rife with crude jokes and inappropriate touching. (Actress and screenwriter Rashida Jones left Toy Story 4 and complained about Pixar's unequal treatment of women.)