LOS ANGELES—Executives at Walt Disney Co. have discussed bringing animation guru John Lasseter back to the company in a new role that would reduce his managerial power but allow him to retain creative influence, according to a person familiar with the matter.
Those discussions come as the end of Lasseter’s six-month leave, taken following accusations of unwelcome hugging and other touching, approaches on May 21. So far, Disney DIS, +0.47% has given no indication whether or not Lasseter will return. It is also possible that Monday will pass with no decision.
Pixar Animation Studios and Walt Disney Animation, which Lasseter helped develop into family-entertainment powerhouses, have adapted to operating in his absence, even as staff members remain in the dark about who will lead them, employees said. The entertainment giant faces a tricky situation in deciding what to do about Lasseter, a predicament facing many companies in the #MeToo era as they deal with executives whose infractions they didn’t consider severe enough to warrant termination.
In Lasseter’s case, Disney executives led by Chief Executive Robert Iger are deciding the fate of a man long considered one of Hollywood’s most bankable and well-known creative geniuses. In his position as chief creative officer of Disney’s studios, a title he has retained while on leave, Lasseter has steered a number of the company’s most valuable franchises, including “Toy Story” and “Finding Nemo.” After Disney acquired Pixar in 2005, he helped lead a revival of Disney Animation Studios, which made “Frozen” and “Zootopia,” and consulted on everything from toy design to theme park attractions.
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