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Paramount Animation Chief Tells Staff They Do Not Have to Work With John Lasseter

Paramount Pictures Animation president Mirielle Soria called a town hall meeting for her staff on Monday, to address angst over John Lasseter’s hire to the top of Skydance Animation, insiders familiar with the meeting told Variety.

Soria’s largely female team met on the studio lot to discuss the shock of last Wednesday’s Lasseter news, said one of the insiders. Soria fielded questions about how Paramount’s division would work with Lasseter and Skydance, which has an overall distribution deal with Paramount that includes four upcoming animated titles.

Numerous sources close to the companies said the meeting was a reflection of Soria’s personal take about the animation guru’s return to the workplace, after departing the Walt Disney Company in a cloud of misconduct accusations. Soria’s meeting did not reflect the stance of the studio at large, those sources said.

Representatives for Paramount and Skydance declined to comment on the matter.

Prior to Lasseter’s arrival, the relationship between between the two companies has been symbiotic, said the insiders. Paramount has been invited to participate in marketing and distribution strategies for Skydance projects to varying degrees. Soria told her staff that if Lasseter requested input, they are free to decline participation.

Soria was not the only executive to attend a town hall on Monday. The staff of Skydance Animation spoke with Lasseter himself for roughly 90 minutes at their mid-city Los Angeles headquarters, a “heavy” conversation that saw Lasseter field many blunt questions from the room. Lasseter was repentant for his past misdoings, a person present at the meeting told Variety, and pledged to change course in his new role.

Soria previously worked at DreamWorks Animation, where she helped shepherd the “Madagascar” franchise and “Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron.”

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