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Essential California: Amid 'missteps,' John Lasseter takes a leave of absence

Essential California: Amid 'missteps,' John Lasseter takes a leave of absence
John Lasseter appears at Disney's premiere for the Pixar film "Coco." (Valerie Macon / AFP/Getty Images)

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It's Wednesday, Nov. 22, and here's what's happening across California:



Taking a leave of absence

John Lasseter, the chief creative officer of Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios, is taking a six-month leave of absence, citing unspecified "missteps," a stunning reversal of fortune for a figure so influential in Hollywood he has often been compared to Walt Disney. Lasseter, the pioneering executive who built Emeryville, Calif.-based Pixar Animation Studios into an entertainment juggernaut and helped revive Disney's once-struggling animation business, said in a memo to staff Tuesday that the decision followed a "number of difficult conversations that have been very painful for me." People close to the studio said several female employees had complained internally about their interactions with the executive. Los Angeles Times

Plus: Stories from inside Pixar. The Hollywood Reporter

And: Charlie Rose's CBS News and PBS career came to an unceremonious end Tuesday when the network fired him over allegations of sexual harassment. Los Angles Times

Onward: HBO said that it plans to continue Russell Simmons' Def Comedy series despite accusations of sexual misconduct against the hip-hop mogul. Los Angeles Times

What happens when you have no place to go?

In March 2016, L.A. County shut down its emergency "welcome centers," where foster kids with nowhere else to go could stay for a day or less, and opened three-day shelters run by private providers. Some are entering the foster system for the first time. For those, the 72-hour facilities generally serve as intended — a temporary stop on the way to a longer-term home. But many have cycled in and out of foster placements for years, sometimes getting kicked out, "AWOLing," or landing in jail in between. Some have histories of substance abuse, mental illness or sex work. Others are pregnant or have children of their own. Los Angeles Times

The 'honor system'?

When Kevin Janson Neal told a judge in February that he'd turn over his only firearm, authorities relied on the "honor system," as they often do, in taking him at his word, a Tehama County sheriff's official said. In the statement he made in a Feb. 22 court filing in response to a civil harassment restraining order against him, Neal said that he had turned in a single pistol to a Red Bluff gun business and that he had no other guns, records show. Los Angeles Times

What to cook? What to eat?

As Americans gather around the dinner table this Thanksgiving, the food on their plates will differ — except for stuffing; nearly everyone eats stuffing. We looked at Google search trends of holiday recipes to find regional differences. Live in California? Good news. You may be getting fried turkey and Brussels sprouts. Feasting in Louisiana? Even better news. Pecan pie may be on the menu, even though it's less common throughout the country. Los Angeles Times

Plus: With the big day approaching, here are the 29 Thanksgiving dishes you still have time to pull off. Los Angeles Times


Boring, not bo-rrring: Elon Musk's tunneling company known as the Boring Co. – which is seeking to build an alternate transportation system that could whisk commuters from the San Fernando Valley to the Westside along the 405 Freeway — has filed an application with Los Angeles officials seeking approval to begin digging within city limits. Los Angeles Times


He's over it: "I can no longer be involved with so many people who feel so entitled. ... The behavior on the sidelines has been despicable too often." — A Beverly Hills youth sports ref calls it quits, blaming annoying parents. LA Weekly

What to do with him? Now that Charles Manson is dead, the question is what happens to his body. Los Angeles Times

Plus: With Manson's death, the next chapter in the family saga will involve follower Leslie Van Houten. Van Houten is one of several Manson followers who are still alive and in prison. They periodically come up for parole review, though none has been released. Los Angeles Times

And: Read here about how Manson's death is being viewed by the alt-right. Huffington Post

New mind-set? Are Asian churches in Southern California changing their stance on LGBT relationships? Orange County Register


Oilfield battle: Los Angeles City Councilman Gil Cedillo is pursuing an unusual plan that could thwart the reopening of a South L.A. oil drilling site that suspended operations after a public outcry over nosebleeds and other health problems reported by neighbors. Los Angeles Times


Taxing matters: Gov. Jerry Brown has a warning for Republican lawmakers in Washington: The tax bill that's under debate isn't going to help them. Bloomberg

Embattled in the O.C.: Kremlin defender Rep. Dana Rohrabacher is finding himself embattled from all sides. New York Times

Beat into a plowshare? "One of Chad Vachter's prized possessions was a thousand-dollar AR-15 assault rifle. After seeing the growing number of mass shootings in the country, Vachter said he was fed up and decided to take a hammer to his gun, destroying it." WFLA


Investigation launched: An American once held prisoner in North Korea was found burning in a San Diego park and died of his injuries. Los Angeles Times

Indictment: Federal prosecutors on Monday laid out a string of alleged crimes carried out over the course of the last decade by nearly a dozen alleged associates of the Hells Angels motorcycle gang, including one on the East Coast. Los Angeles Times

Take that: A Stanford professor didn't just debate his scientific critics — he sued them for $10 million. Los Angeles Times

ACLU study: Anaheim Police officers use excessive force at a rate that far outpaces law enforcement agencies in most similar-sized or larger cities, according to a report released Monday by the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California. Los Angeles Times


Working the system: California's cap-and-trade program received another boost Tuesday, with its most recent permit auction reaching record-high sales, according to details released by regulators. Los Angeles Times


An idol dies: David Cassidy, the former star of "The Partridge Family" TV hit of the 1970s, died Tuesday evening of liver failure at age 67. The singer had also suffered from dementia in recent months, and had announced he would stop performing as the disease worsened. "I will always be eternally grateful for the love and support you've shown me," he said in a statement earlier this year. Los Angeles Times

Outrageous: Nearly 3 million Dish Network subscribers in 18 cities, including Los Angeles, have lost access to their local CBS television station — just two days before Thanksgiving, when many Americans want to watch NFL football. Los Angeles Times

About the dad: Times columnist Bill Plaschke has some harsh words for LaVar Ball, who "once seemed like a genius salesman worthy of examination, but in recent months the curtain has been drawn to reveal a shallow and shameless huckster." Los Angeles Times

Sweet: Mrs. Fields Cookies, which got its start in Palo Alto, is giving away cookies to mark its 40th anniversary on Dec. 4. SF Gate

Cool list: Here are 101 things to love about Los Angeles. Curbed LA


Los Angeles area: sunny, 93, Wednesday; partly cloudy, 90, Thursday. San Diego: sunny, 85, Wednesday; partly cloudy, 83, Thursday. San Francisco area: partly cloudy, 66, Wednesday and Thursday. Sacramento: partly cloudy, 69, Wednesday; cloudy, 69, Thursday. More weather is here.


Today's California memory comes from Bob Wakefield:

"As a preteen in 1942-43, the early years of World War II, I was part of a youth organization sponsored by the Los Angeles Herald-Express and run by Darcy Darcy (sic), a Herald sports writer. We were officially called the 'Junior Army,' and we were involved in recycling long before that practice became commonplace. Our mission was periodically to canvass neighborhoods for donations of vital war materials that could be reused — primarily rubber, various metal objects and paper. In those days, kids ranged farther from home than most parents allow them to go today; so, little red wagon in tow, I learned to navigate a great deal of the city. Several times a year, those of us who had contributed a lot of time and effort were invited to a theater in one of Exposition Park's museums, where we were treated to live performances by the famous comedy team of Abbott and Costello."

If you have a memory or story about the Golden State, share it with us. Send us an email to let us know what you love or fondly remember about our state. (Please keep your story to 100 words.)

Please let us know what we can do to make this newsletter more useful to you. Send comments, complaints and ideas to Benjamin Oreskes and Shelby Grad. Also follow them on Twitter @boreskes and @shelbygrad.