A version of this story first appeared in the April 24 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
Twenty-seven years after Robert De Niro asked Jane Rosenthal to leave Los Angeles and her career as a rising Disney exec to come work for him (“What do you want to do, be a studio executive for the rest of your life?” he recalls asking her at a first meeting set up by Martin Scorsese on the Midnight Run set), the partnership still is going strong. There is only a wall separating their offices on the top floor of the eight-story Tribeca Film Center (Harvey Weinstein works on the third floor; Steven Spielberg rents the fourth). De Niro’s workspace — which teems with mementos from nearly five decades of filmmaking — is where he goes to make calls and, he jokes with Rosenthal, struggle with the Internet: “I don’t really go to websites other than The New York Times on Sunday. She’ll send me websites to go to.” Responds Rosenthal, 58: “Then he’ll say, ‘How do I open this?’ ”
On her side of their office suite, Rosenthal runs Tribeca Enterprises, whose many tentacles include the Tribeca Film Festival. Launched in 2002 to help jumpstart lower Manhattan’s economy in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, the festival has attracted nearly 5 million visitors and generated more than $900 million in economic activity over its 14 years. This year’s edition, which runs April 15-26, kicks off with Live From New York!, a documentary about the cultural and political impact of Saturday Night Live and will bring down the curtain with a 25th anniversary screening of Scorsese and De Niro’s 1990 collaboration Goodfellas. With lower Manhattan now bustling, the festival, having fulfilled its initial mission, is taking on new challenges, exploring the latest experiments in the technology of storytelling. It has a brand-new gathering spot at Spring Studios on 50 Varick St., which will serve as a central hub. Its Tribeca Talks director series is attracting such high-profile participants as George Lucas, Christopher Nolan, Bennett Miller, Brad Bird and Cary Fukunaga. And in the midst of screening 101 features, it also will find time to celebrate pop culture icons from Frank Sinatra to Monty Python.
The Russian doll of De Niro’s Travis Bickle character in 1976’s Taxi Driver was a gift from a friend.
Rosenthal also is deeply involved with Tribeca Productions, whose credits over the years include the Meet the Parents comedy franchise, Analyze This and Analyze That and more recently, The Good Shepherd. The company is currently making a push into TV with the Ava DuVernay-helmed pilot For Justice, which recently shot in New York.
De Niro, 71, isn’t tethered to his office, though. When it’s time to hold meetings, he says, he does several of those in his many restaurants: TriBeCa Grill, the 32 Nobus worldwide, and The Greenwich Hotel and its restaurant, Locanda Verde. The Tribeca resident turned Upper West Sider is branching into Nobu hotels, including one at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas: “People would always ask us to bring Nobu into their hotel to give them a certain cachet,” says De Niro. “I said, ‘Why are we going in there to do that for them? Let’s explore the idea of doing the hotel ourselves,’ ” he says. Despite his global empire, De Niro says he is not likely to ever call anywhere but the Big Apple home base: “I like that in New York there’s a street life. And I like seasons, even if they’re uncomfortable at times.”
De Niro’s late father, artist Robert De Niro Sr., painted wine bottle labels for his son’s 50th birthday.
No one wields a bat quite like De Niro, whose infamous scene in 1987’s ‘The Untouchables’ inspired this collection, accumulated from gifts over the years.
De Niro’s bookshelf takes up an entire wall of the office and is filled with souvenirs and books, including a small collection of biographies about himself.
See below for more peeks inside the offices of Manhattan’s elite.