Turner President David Levy (L) and HBO CEO Richard Plepler. Photos: David Becke; Drew Angerer via Getty Images

Hollywood was stunned Thursday by the simultaneous announcements that Richard Plepler and David Levy, the respective heads of HBO and Turner, had "decided to move on" from their plum roles at the top of the WarnerMedia empire. Talk of imminent "massive layoffs" inevitably followed.

The big picture: Plepler ran HBO as a very lucrative high-end operation, bringing in profit of about $2 billion per year as well as some 160 Emmys and an Axios show. He also made it clear that he needed little if any help from his parent company, and that he valued his independence.

  • HBO's parent company, Time Warner, was bought by AT&T last year. It was renamed WarnerMedia and placed under the aegis of John Stankey, a telecommunications executive suspicious of HBO's big-spending ways. When Plepler pointed to how much money he was making, Stankey retorted that it wasn't enough.
  • Stankey is looking for growth rather than cuts, but that's not stopping HBO employees from worrying that they're going to go through the kind of pain that Kraft Heinz went through when it got taken over by 3G.

The bottom line: If efficiency engineering doesn't work for ketchup, it's even harder to make work in Hollywood — a place that can credibly claim significant positive returns on lavish spending, without ever really being able to explain how that works. The culture clash is only just beginning.

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Updated 7 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 4:30 p.m. ET: 21,020,216 — Total deaths: 761,393— Total recoveries: 13,048,303Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 4:30 p.m. ET: 5,289,323 — Total deaths: 167,948 — Total recoveries: 1,774,648 — Total tests: 64,831,306Map.
  3. Health: CDC: Survivors of COVID-19 have up to three months of immunity Fauci believes normalcy will return by "the end of 2021" with vaccine — The pandemic's toll on mental health.
  4. Business: How small businesses got stiffed — Unemployment starts moving in the right direction.
  5. Cities: Coronavirus pandemic dims NYC's annual 9/11 Tribute in Light.
  6. Politics: Biden signals fall strategy with new ads.

Harris: "Women are going to be a priority" in Biden administration

Sen. Kamala Harris at an event in Wilmington, Del. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

In her first sit-down interview since being named Joe Biden's running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris talked about what she'll do to fight for women if elected VP, and how the Democrats are thinking about voter turnout strategies ahead of November.

What they're saying: "In a Biden-Harris administration women are going to be a priority, understanding that women have many priorities and all of them must be acknowledged," Harris told The 19th*'s Errin Haines-Whack.

Facebook goes after Apple

Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

Facebook is seeking to force a face-off with Apple over its 30% in-app purchase commission fee, which Facebook suggests hurts small businesses struggling to get by during the pandemic.

The big picture: Facebook has never publicly gone after Apple, a key strategic partner, this aggressively. Both companies face antitrust scrutiny, which in Apple's case has centered on the very fee structure Facebook is now attacking.