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Tuesday, March 06, 2007

John Lasseter Takes the Reins

Laura M. Holson's story in Sunday's NY Times paints the clearest picture I've seen so far of John Lasseter as a strong, opinionated, and very hands-on leader at Walt Disney Feature Animation. It's a great read. Holson writes:

    ...The first filmmaker to run Disney’s animation operations since Walt Disney died in 1966, [Lasseter] said he wants to reclaim the studio’s golden era.

    Since those early days, though, almost everything has changed. On the Disney campus, the creative culture is tattered still from years of cost-cutting and political infighting. And in the world at large audiences have moved on. The sweet wholesome tales of Mickey Mouse and friends don’t have the same relevance for a generation raised on violent video games, distracted by 500 cable channels and preoccupied with Web diversions like MySpace.

    “I’m not sure it’s a trivial challenge,” said Jim Morris, a Pixar producer who is working on the forthcoming “Wall-E.” “As charismatic as John is, he can’t do everything.”

Disney's forthcoming 'Meet the Robinsons' was extensively retooled under Lasseter's guidance, and the director of 'American Dog' was edged out. Lasseter also isn't stingy with his feedback on new Disney rides for the theme parks.

Of course, Walt Disney was known for having strong opinions -- and he prodded his employees into producing great work. Could Lasseter do the same? I think the only thing that could prove problematic for Lasseter, over the long term, is that his name isn't on the door.

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