To the fashion minded in Paris, a pink slip is something you see sashaying down a catwalk -- not in your office mail. But that's exactly what is going on at Vivendi Universal(NYSE: V), as the global conglomerate announced yesterday that it would be slashing 46% of its workforce at its French corporate headquarters.

Vivendi's problems have been known for some time. The debt-laden entertainment and environmental services giant has been reeling from its own acquisitive debauchery. Its entertainment stock brethren can't be quick to judge. Companies like Disney(NYSE: DIS), AOL Time Warner(NYSE: AOL), and Viacom(NYSE: VIA) spent the last few years feeding alongside Vivendi, consuming everything from major networks to sport teams. Vivendi's crime is that it was the one who stuck its arm the deepest into the cookie jar.

While all four stocks are trading lower than they were three years ago, Vivendi's shares have been hit the hardest. Yes, even AOL's tumble is child's play compared to Vivendi's slide. Viacom has held up the best, thanks in part to a strong slate of cable properties and improvement at CBS.

It doesn't make much sense at first. In times of economic and political strife, we crave entertainment. Each company has produced a box-office champion, as movie theaters continue to ring up record results.

While the ad market may be soft, television ratings have been solid as we have morphed into a world of homebodies. But you can't underscore the struggling ad market. With companies holding back on their marketing budgets, the entertainers have little choice but to earn less for the same work.

Like a street performer caught in the deluge, talent is nothing if the crowd just isn't there. And, for a few more displaced workers at Vivendi, the downpour continues.