After a grueling stint at Disney -- "I was going to work in the dark and coming home in the dark" -- Rosenthal was so burned out that she quit. Thirty years old and still single, she started taking flying lessons, and was contemplating her future when she got a call from Martin Scorsese. They had met when Rosenthal was the Disney production executive on The Color of Money. Scorsese wondered if she'd like to sit down with his friend De Niro, who was buying a factory building and turning it into a film center and wanted someone to run his own production company. Rosenthal didn't immediately jump at the job; friends warned her that becoming the go-to person for a notoriously prickly actor could be career suicide. "I spent a year looking for somebody," says De Niro. "I interviewed around twenty people and re-interviewed them, and re- and re-interviewed them, and finally felt she was the best person for it, and I wasn't wrong. She still is."
She and De Niro are in touch so constantly that they talk in couple's shorthand. I ask her whether it feels like she has two husbands, and she laughs. "I was at a dinner with Bob and Craig, and they both told me they were ready to go. So I got ready to leave, they were both chatting with other people, and I had to get them both out of their conversations. The elevator door was opening and closing and opening."
The friendship among the threesome has led to one big-budget enterprise that they'd all prefer to forget. To Hatkoff's chagrin, he launched his wife's most disastrous movie project by giving her as a Valentine's gift the collector's edition of one of their favorite vintage TV shows, The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle. (On their first date, they spent the evening singing theme songs from sixties shows.) Rosenthal remembered the characters so fondly that she spent years pursuing the rights and developing a screenplay; her live-action-and-animated version of the film, starring De Niro as Fearless Leader, was panned as a critical and commercial disaster when it hit theaters in 2000, losing $30 million. "It was really Jane's baby from the beginning, and it was a big disappointment," says De Niro.
"The failure felt so personal," she says. "I'm always worried about my career, but this wasn't 'I'll never work again.' It was 'I don't know if I can work again.' " Patty Newburger recalls, "What was hard for Jane was that people stopped calling for a few days. The silence bothered her."
Four months later, however, her reputation was restored when their next movie, Meet the Parents, hit the screens. It brought in more than $200 million.
As for her current project, the festival's success won't be measured in Variety by box-office gross; she and De Niro are aiming to please a smaller audience, a slice of New York. "Bob felt personally insulted by what happened down here," Harvey Weinstein says, "and it's Jane's tenacity that has made the festival happen. She got it done."