Rosenthal helped launch Sean Penn's career when he cast the then-unknown actor in the title role of the 1983 film Bad Boys. Rosenthal worked on the Emmy-winning ABC series Life Goes On as well as such series as Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Providence, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Smallville.
In recent years, Rosenthal has turned to the independent film world, continuing to direct, but also producing as well, giving opportunities to first time directors. The first production under the Whitewater Films banner was the Sundance Film Festival hit Mean Creek.
Mean Creek was followed by writer-director Scott Prendergast's first feature, Kabluey, starring Lisa Kudrow.
The fall of 2007 saw Ocean Grove, New Jersey become the site of Whitewater Films' Greta, video director Nancy Bardawil's feature debut, starring Hilary Duff and Ellen Burstyn.
Rosenthal started his career by directing Halloween II and returned to the genre 20 years later helming Halloween: Resurrection. In between he has directed films such as American Dreamer (1984), Russkies (1987), Distant Thunder (1988), Just A Little Harmless Sex (1999), and Nearing Grace (2005).
Rosenthal is a producer on the Amazon hit series Transparent and was nominated in 2015 for Directors Guild of Canada award.