Apple Inc. CEO Tim Cook responds to questions posed by Wall Street Journal personal technology columnist Walt Mossberg. (Asa Mathat | All Things Digital / May 30, 2012)

Steve Jobs had another iconic business leader in mind as he contemplated turning over the reins of Apple Inc. to his successor, Tim Cook.

When Apple's ailing chief executive and co-founder called Cook to his home to discuss the leadership transition that took place in August 2011, Jobs talked about the executive paralysis at theWalt Disney Co.after the death of the studio's revered founder.

"He said that people would go to meetings and conference rooms, and they would all sit around and talk about what would Walt have done? What decision would Walt make?" Cook recalled Tuesday in an interview during the Wall Street Journal's D: All Things Digital Conference. "He looked at me with those intense eyes that only he had, and he told me to never do that, to never ask what he would do. Just do what’s right."

Pressed to describe how Apple thinks differently under his leadership, Cook talked about the decision to pay shareholders dividends for the first time in the company's history -- and the start of corporate philanthropy program, in which the company matches employee donations.

"The Kennedys used to say this, and I believe it strongly in my heart, 'To whom much is given much is expected,'' recalled Cook, who said he counts Bobby Kennedy as one of his heroes.

Cook said he also has pressed for greater transparency about Apple's factory operations -- disclosing the names of its suppliers and posting regular reports on the hours worked at manufacturing plants in China. Apple has been workng aggressively to reduce overtime, he said. The actions came in the wake of a New York Times investigation of the harsh working conditions inside these plants.

Asked whether Cook foresaw a time when Apple -- which once boasted its products were made in America -- would return manufacturing operations to the U.S., he responded, "I want there to be."
Wall Street Journal personal technology columnist Walt Mossberg and AllThingsD's Kara Swisher tried, without success, to get Cook to leak product news. Instead, he vowed that one of the hallmarks of Apple under his stewardship is to be even more secretive than under his notoriously tight-lipped predecessor, Jobs.

However, changes in how people consume entertainment in the home is clearly on Cook's mind.
AppleTV, a set-top box that allows consumers to watch movies and TV shows delivered via the Internet to their TV screen, has been less of a success than Apple's other recent product innovations, such as the iPad or iPhone.

But Cook said the television experience -- and changes in home entertainment -- are "an area of intense interest" for Apple.

"For many of us, the TV that we do watch is almost exclusively online," Cook said. "So, we’re going to keep pulling this string and see where it takes us. "
Cook stopped short, however, of confirming speculation that Apple is developing its own television set. "I'm not going to tell you," he said.

Apple enjoys good relationships with Hollywood, Cook said, relationships that were enhanced by Jobs' stake in Pixar Animation Studios, which was sold to Disney in 2006.

"We have great respect for the content owners. We don’t want their stuff to be ripped off," Cook said. "This is the way we felt about music. We love music, and we wanted to provide a simple and elegant way for people to buy, because we felt the vast majority of people were honest."

Cook said he had met recently with several executives in the content industry -- but offered no details of the nature of those discussions.

"There were great conversations, because they were talking about what more we could do together," Cook said.

Jim Paratore
Jim Paratore spent much of his career at Warner Bros. Television. (Warner Bros. / May 29, 2012)

RIP. Jim Paratore, a well-regarded televison producer and executive, died Tuesday after suffering a heart attack while cycling in France.

Paratore, 58, spent much of his career atWarner Bros.Television and was still associated with the Burbank studio, where his production outlet paraMedia had an exclusive deal.

“TheWarner Bros.Television family has lost an incredibly talented and creative friend and colleague in Jim,” said Bruce Rosenblum, president,Warner Bros.Television Group.  “He has left an indelible mark not only on our company’s success but on each of us who worked with him during the past 26 years. Jim had a passion for life, both inside and outside the entertainment industry, and he will truly be missed.”

Paratore was president of Telepictures, a production arm of Warner Bros. Television, from 1992 through 2006. During that time he was heavily involved with the creation and launching of"The Ellen DeGeneres Show,""The Rosie O'Donnell Show" and "The Bachelor." He continued as an executive producer of "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" after leaving Telepictures.

Prior to joining Telepictures, Paratore worked in local television as a programming director at several Florida stations.

Paratore is survived by his wife, Jill Wickert, and his daughter, Martinique.