Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Pixar's John Lasseter to head Disney Imagineers

From MiceAge:
"Pixar President Ed Catmull will serve as President of the new Pixar and Disney animation studios, reporting to Iger and Dick Cook, Chairman of The Walt Disney Studios. In addition, Pixar Executive Vice President John Lasseter will be Chief Creative Officer of the animation studios, as well as Principal Creative Advisor at Walt Disney Imagineering, where he will provide his expertise in the design of new attractions for Disney theme parks around the world, reporting directly to Iger. Pixar Chairman and CEO Steve Jobs will be appointed to Disney's Board of Directors as a non-independent member. With the addition of Jobs, 11 of Disney's 14 directors will be independent. Both Disney and Pixar animation units will retain their current operations and locations."
John Lassater is the real creative genius behind most of what Pixar has brought to the screen in the last 10 years (having been either a writer, director, executive producer or several combinations thereof for Toy Story, Toy Story 2, A Bug's Life, Monsters, Inc., Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, and the upcoming Cars).

Installing Lassater as head advisor of the Imagineering department promises great things for Disney Parks in the future. Hopefully this move won't detract from his involvement in the animation department, which is still more important to Disney overall...

Hey, I wonder what this merger now means for the development of Toy Story 3? It was greenlighted (greenlit?) back when Pixar and Disney had split, due to irreconcilable differences between ex-Disney czar Michael Eisner and Pixar prez Steve Jobs. Now that Disney is buying Pixar...hmm. Supposedly the Pixar gang had worked up a great plot for the movie, tying up the storyline - I'm not in love with the Disney version listed on the linked page... I hope they reconsider and make this movie the way it should be made.

Update: More about John Lasseter:
Lasseter's fans say he is Disney's best hope to rekindle an animation group that dominated film animation from "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" through "The Lion King." He is exceptionally popular with animators, who see him as one of their own and are drawn to his wide-eyed enthusiasm.

"John is an artist; he understands their passions, their psyches, their insecurities — the whole package," said Chris Buck, the director of "Tarzan," who worked with Lasseter at Disney in the early 1980s.

The 49-year-old executive wears Hawaiian shirts on the job, stuffs his office full of windup toys and shuns limousines for an Oscar Mayer Wienermobile at the Academy Awards. Pixar's Emeryville, Calif., headquarters reflect that carefree management style. Animators and computer geeks tool around on scooters through hallways decorated with discarded Chuck E. Cheese mouse statues.

In graduation ceremonies for the company's Pixar University training program, new hires dress in large hats or as cheerleaders before parading backward as Lasseter delivers the commencement address.
Sounds like my kind of guy. Hey John, need an assistant?

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