A Pixar Exec's Fairy-Tale Story
Business Week 1/26/06

A Pixar Exec's Fairy-Tale Story

John Lasseter once swept Disneyland's streets. Now the animating force behind Toy Story may hold the key to the Magic Kingdom's future

Elton John had just rocked the house with a new song. Jodie Foster had stopped by to chat up her new film with the crowd. But the show that Walt Disney was putting on at a Hollywood theater to pitch upcoming movies came to a stop because one headliner was late from the airport. Quickly improvising, Disney Studios Chairman Richard Cook staged a mock conversation between himself and the missing guest, Pixar's top creative executive, John Lasseter. During his conversation with himself, Cook implored Lasseter to "tell Steve Jobs that we can't leave Disney."

Pudgy, with a childlike laugh and a penchant for sneakers and loud Hawaiian shirts, John Lasseter was crucial to Disney's $7.4 billion purchase of Pixar Animation Studios
announced on Jan. 24. The onetime Disney animator is regarded by Hollywood executives as the modern Walt himself -- capable of weaving computer-generated classics like Toy Story and A Bug's Life that have made Pixar a sure thing in the high-stakes animated world.

Indeed, Jobs said he would never have made the deal if Lasseter hadn't given him his okay. "From the beginning, John said, 'We have to find a way to make [this deal happen],'" recalls Cook, who negotiated the sale. "He bleeds Disney, and he just couldn't see leaving."

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