What’s with DeNiro’s Tribeca co-founder, Jane Rosenthal?

BY JB HANDLEY April 13, 2016

(4/15/16 Update: the “scientist” who Jane Rosenthal consulted before pulling Vaxxed has been identified, discussed at the end of this article.)

Can we talk about anything but Vaxxed?

PORTLAND, Oregon — Robert DeNiro’s interview this morning on NBC’s Today Show may be one of the seminal events in the history of the movement by parents to end the autism epidemic, although it’s too early to know for sure. Some of the things he said about the relationship between vaccines and autism are likely to shake the mainstream media’s foundation for some time to come, and the reverberations are already being felt in headlines like this around the world:

Potentially making her own history and attached to DeNiro’s hip for all of his public interviews so far has been Jane Rosenthal, a co-founder of the Tribeca Film Festival, and a woman whose discomfort with many of the things DeNiro is publicly saying is now available for the world to witness. Frankly, Rosenthal kept her disappointment with DeNiro more in check during the Today Show interview than she did in a previous interview with Bloomberg, where she went so far as to say (when discussing the removal of the movie Vaxxed from Tribeca’s lineup):

“One of the biggest lessons of any kind of leadership is to admit when you’ve made a mistake [implying screening Vaxxed would have been a mistake]”

The most egregious interview I watched was on a local NY station, Fox 5, where Rosenthal literally shuts DeNiro down from speaking about Vaxxed. You have to give Ms. Rosenthal credit: she doesn’t hide her feelings!

As the parent of a child with autism and the member of a community who witnessed their child’s descent into autism after vaccination, I want you to understand something about this public conflict:

The conflict we are seeing between DeNiro and Rosenthal is a microcosm of the conflict raging within the autism community, and it is so critical to our children to understand why.


It all starts with Bernard Rimland

Dr. Rimland and his son Mark

Dr. Bernard Rimland is rightly viewed as the father of the modern autism movement. Back in the day, autism was blamed on emotionless mothers, and Rimland’s book, Infantile Autism, changed all that. Dr. Rimland, with a son with autism (Dustin Hoffman reportedly modeled his character in Rain Man after Dr. Rimland’s son Mark), understood that autism was a recent epidemic and a physical disease, and his intellectual strength and courage changed the paradigm of autism forever.

When Dr. Rimland passed away in 2006, his contributions to the field of autism were extolled by many, including Autism Speaks. Less appreciated and less reported in Dr. Rimland’s obituaries, however, was that he detested Autism Speaks (because they support a view that Autism is genetic and have abandoned our children regarding the link to vaccinations) and detested any and all researchers who claimed that autism was genetic, that autism has always been with us, or that autism is something you can’t treat or recover from. Unlike many scientists who study autism, Dr. Rimland was first and foremost a parent, and he chose to listen closely to other parents, and what Dr. Rimland learned from the wisdom of all these parents would shape the very movement that Robert DeNiro is now speaking for:

  • Dr. Rimland learned that “biomedical intervention” could lead to an improvement in the symptoms of autism, and he innovated the use of B6 and magnesium to improve autism’s symptoms
  • Dr. Rimland created an entire network of doctors — Defeat Autism Now — to help treat children with autism by treating their physical symptoms
  • Dr. Rimland publicly and vocally blamed the autism epidemic on the increase in vaccinations given to children:

Dr. Rimland’s organization, the Autism Research Institute, maintains a small office in San Diego. It’s funding has come almost exclusively from parents. ARI has done it’s best to fund research to support Dr. Rimland’s view of both the cause of autism and how to treat it, but they’ve done so on a shoestring budget, because no major organization or pharmaceutical company is going to give money to a group that blames the autism epidemic on vaccines, which is where the story returns to Jane Rosenthal.

The NYU Child Study Center

Jane Rosenthal is an extremely powerful and successful film producer. In 2014, she and her husband and real estate developer Craig Hatzkoff divorced, and to give you some idea of their wealth, they put their New York City co-op on the market for $39 million.

Craig Hatzkoff, her now ex-husband, sits on the board of the NYU Child Study Center, and journalists Jon Rappaport explains why this matters:

“Craig Hatkoff, sits on the board of the NYU Child Study Center in New York — and that major, major Center is deeply involved in the research, study, and treatment of child psychiatric disorders. In case you’ve forgotten, autism is officially listed as a psychiatric disorder…The NYU Center would never, ever, in a million years imagine that vaccines could cause autism. If they did imagine it, they’d shut up and march straight ahead with their brain imaging studies and other mainstream distractions. The Rosenthal-Hatkoff duo have been on the scene at a number of Center fundraisers and awards dinners. They’re active. They’re visible. They’re players…A film that claims to show a link between the MMR vaccine and autism would be a hideous affront to the NYU Child Study Center, where Craig Hatkoff, co-founder of the Tribeca Film Festival, sits on the Board…A plan to actually show Vaxxed at the Tribeca Festival, which Hatkoff and Rosenthal co-founded, would be a blow to the face of the NYU Center.”

The conflict, for those who don’t get it

Jane Rosenthal is closely aligned with a view of autism that many of us strongly disagree with, and it goes something like this:

  • Autism is genetic, and it’s a condition of the brain
  • Pharmaceutical drugs will be developed that can keep autism in check, and we already have some promising drugs to fight autism

Or something like that. Basically, autism is the next great profit center for pharmaceutical drugs and genetic engineering. The mainstream view of autism:

It’s genetic, although we can’t find the gene. Genes and drugs will help, we just need more time and money to figure it out.

Compare that to a different worldview, trailblazed by Dr. Bernard Rimland:

  • Autism is a very recent epidemic, and it is iatrogenic (caused by doctors)
  • The primary (although not only) cause of autism is over-vaccination
  • Treating the underlying physical symptoms of autism (gut dysbiosis, malnutrition, low-grade infection, etc.) can lead to improved symptoms for some, and recovery for others.
  • The autism epidemic can end, by making vaccines safer, reducing the load, and/or identifying vulnerable children in advance of vaccination (which was one of the points DeNiro was making today).

Dr. Rimland’s view of autism:

It never should have happened. Man started it, man can end it. Let’s recover as many kids as we can.

Dr. Pamela Rollins

Ms. Rosenthal is likely even more challenged in her views about autism because she has a sister who is heavily involved in the world of autism, too:

Dr. Pamela Rollins has an impressive resume with a Harvard degree and an associate professorship at the University of Texas, where she has:

“dedicated more than 30 years to education, research, teaching and clinical practice towards understanding, identifying and treating children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). She is a four time gubernatorial appointed member of the Texas Council for Autism and PDD and holds leadership positions on many of the Texas’ early identification and intervention planning and implementation initiatives for individuals with ASD.”

Let me get something clear: from my perspective, Jane Rosenthal’s sister, Dr. Pamela Rollins, is doing great work for our kids and I’m thankful for her and her work. Our children desperately need help communicating! But, what’s generally true, and I’m only speculating here about Dr. Rollins, is that people in her position rarely, if ever, discuss causation of autism or get involved with the conflict with vaccines. Why? Well, two reason really. First, if she did she wouldn’t have the job she has. And, second, it’s been my general experience that people in the autism field who are surviving in the mainstream treatment world (where no one has discovered the cause or how to cure autism in three decades) generally accept the “consensus view” about vaccines and autism.


Is Jane Rosenthal a bad person? I have no evidence to suggest she is. She’s certainly incredibly successful and I’m guessing very bright and talented. Having said that, she clearly runs in a world that believes autism is genetic, a world that raises ever-larger sums of money to come up with no answers to the raging autism epidemic. A world that some day hopes to develop both an autism pill and a pregnancy screen. A world where mentioning that vaccines cause autism is socially unacceptable. A world where it is far safer to embrace the current consensus than to ask the really hard questions. If you still don’t understand this conflict, take a look at the conflict between Katie Wright and her parents, Bob & Suzanne, co-founders of Autism Speaks, as told in the New York Times, Autism Debate Strains a Family and Its Charity

“The Wrights’ daughter, Katie, the mother of Christian, says her parents have not given enough support to the people who believe, as she does, that the environment is to blame…Bob and Suzanne Wright are sympathetic to Katie’s plight, having witnessed Christian’s sudden regression and his many physical ailments, mostly gastrointestinal, which afflict many autistic children.”

Dr. Bernard Rimland was a friend of mine. I was lucky to spend private time with Bernie. He had a vicious wit, he did not suffer fools, he was an outside the box thinker, and he’s the one who first sent me this quote by Michael Crichton on the dangers of falling in line with “consensus science”, the consensus science that Mr. DeNiro took dead aim at today in his interview on the Today Show (for a challenge to the consensus view, please read this):

“I want to pause here and talk about this notion of consensus, and the rise of what has been called consensus science. I regard consensus science as an extremely pernicious development that ought to be stopped cold in its tracks. Historically, the claim of consensus has been the first refuge of scoundrels; it is a way to avoid debate by claiming that the matter is already settled. Whenever you hear the consensus of scientists agrees on something or other, reach for your wallet, because you’re being had.

“Let’s be clear: the work of science has nothing whatever to do with consensus. Consensus is the business of politics. Science, on the contrary, requires only one investigator who happens to be right, which means that he or she has results that are verifiable by reference to the real world. In science consensus is irrelevant. What is relevant is reproducible results. The greatest scientists in history are great precisely because they broke with the consensus.

“There is no such thing as consensus science. If it’s consensus, it isn’t science. If it’s science, it isn’t consensus. Period.”

“… Finally, I would remind you to notice where the claim of consensus is invoked. Consensus is invoked only in situations where the science is not solid enough. Nobody says the consensus of scientists agrees that E = mc². Nobody says the consensus is that the sun is 93 million miles away. It would never occur to anyone to speak that way.”


Ian Lipkin, we need to hear more about you, reports are that you are the “scientific community” referred to in the Tribeca Film Festival’s statement justifying why Vaxxed was pulled from the festival.

Ian Lipkin is a bigwig in the New York autism world.

In fact, he’s such a bigwig that I have received information that Lipkin is the “scientific community” Jane Rosenthal, co-founder of the Tribeca Film Festival, consulted before she decided to pull the movie Vaxxed from the festival.

Here’s more about Lipkin, including some choice words Dr. William Thompson — the CDC Whistleblower featured in Vaxxed — had to say about Dr. Lipkin.

Dr. Ian Lipkin produced a study in Plos ONE in 2008 that is cited by many as irrefutable proof that Dr. Wakefield’s hypothesis that the MMR vaccine is causing regressive autism is untrue. (The published study made worldwide news as further proof of the safety of vaccines.)

Lipkin’s work was subject to immediate criticism within the autism community for some glaring errors, like this excerpt from SafeMinds:

A scientific study released today examined the hypothesis that measles virus persisting in the intestinal tract from the MMR vaccine causes or exacerbates autism. The study refuted this hypothesis for the majority of autism cases while validating the link between gastrointestinal (GI) disease, inflammation and autistic regression. The study design precluded assessment of a role for acute measles infection from MMR in a subset of children with autism and did not examine the role of other vaccines, vaccine components such as thimerosal, or other environmental exposures which can trigger gastrointestinal and immunological problems.

I could bore you with more detail and pick apart Lipkin’s work, but I actually have a more interesting way to challenge Lipkin’s study, as well as his obvious conflict in recommending Vaxxed be censored.

Dr. Ian Lipkin, author of “the worst study ever”

It’s ironic that Jane Rosenthal would choose Lipkin to talk to, because Lipkin is the topic of a fairly extensive conversation between the CDC Whistleblower, William Thompson, a sitting scientist at CDC and the subject of the movie Vaxxed, and autism parent and scientist Brian Hooker

Dr. Thompson: Right. Ian Lipkin is one of those…Well, I’ll give you an example. When I was trying to hold them accountable… It was funded by the CDC.

Dr. Hooker: Right.

Dr. Thompson: I don’t know if you know that.

Dr. Hooker: Right. Right.

Dr. Thompson: It was funded by the CDC; the money was sent to the NIH. It was the worst mismanaged event of federal funds that I’ve ever seen, um…

Dr. Hooker: Wow.

Dr. Thompson: In terms of how that study was carried out. If you looked at the original study design and the fact that they only ended up with twenty-five Autism cases, it’s just insane. So, I took over as project officer in the middle of that. And I kept trying to hold people accountable…

Dr. Hooker: [Affirmative response.]

Dr. Thompson: …for what they were doing with the money and, um, the project officer on their end eventually dropped off the study; she was so fed up and tired with it.

Dr. Hooker: Okay.

Dr. Thompson: In the middle, in the middle of the study, Ian Lipkin was asking for more money and he actually, and I…

Dr. Hooker: [Affirmative response.]

Dr. Thompson: I don’t think I kept the email but it’s the one email I wish I had kept was where he said he was going to go talk to his Congressman if we didn’t uh…

Dr. Hooker: [Affirmative response.] That sounds like Ian.

Dr. Thompson: If we didn’t give him more money.

Dr. Hooker: That sounds exactly like Ian Lipkin.

Dr. Thompson: No. I…

Dr. Hooker: Oh my goodness.

Dr. Thompson: No, he’s an arrogant dick. And then the first author, Mady Hornig, I think she’s first author on it.

Dr. Hooker: Yeah, yeah.

Dr. Thompson: I’m not sure. So anyway. So Mady Hornig, who was doing animal studies is his significant other. So…

Dr. Hooker: Right, right, right. They’re shacking up.

Dr. Thompson: So, you know, husband and wife team.

Dr. Hooker: They’re shacking up. They’re not married.

Dr. Thompson: Yeah. Yeah.

Dr. Hooker: But, yeah. That’s been historic. Yeah.

Dr. Thompson: So, anyway. That was criminal because they published that study with twenty-five autism cases and the power was like zero…

Dr. Hooker: [Affirmative response.]

Dr. Thompson: …and they tried to give the impression that they did a study of, you know, [UI].

Dr. Hooker: [Affirmative response.]

Dr. Thompson: I don’t remember exactly…

Dr. Hooker: They ran PCR in the cases. They ran PCR in the controls. They found measles virus in several of the cases, and they found measles virus in the controls and then they concluded there was no effect. But the actual conclusion of the study should be, “It’s a really crappy study. We can’t tell anything.”

Dr. Thompson: It was the worst study ever.

Dr. Hooker: Thank you.

Dr. Thompson: It was the worst study ever.

Dr. Hooker: Thank you. When you talk to Ian Lipkin, he’s like, “This is definitive. This shows there’s no correlation.”

Dr. Thompson: It was the worst study ever.

Dr. Hooker: There’s no such thing as autistic enterocolitis that has MMR…

Dr. Thompson: It was the worst study ever.


One of the most prominent studies ever cited to prove “vaccines do not cause autism,” and we have a sitting senior scientist turned whistleblower at the CDC who managed this very study referring to it as “the worst study ever”, “criminal”, and this same CDC whistleblower goes on to imply that the lead author of the study, Ian Lipkin — the same guy who Jane Rosenthal consulted before removing Vaxxed from the Tribeca film festival — mismanaged the funding of the study and made threats in order to get more funding. Incredible! (Can a journalist please interview Ian Lipkin with this transcript?)

J.B. Handley is the father of a child with Autism. He spent his career in the private equity industry and received his undergraduate degree with honors from Stanford University. He’s also the author of An Angry Father’s Guide to Vaccine-Autism Science