It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Hollywood Xmas: The Personnel Purging Begins

As you may have already heard, a staggering 850 people were laid off from Viacom today. Torrents of blood washed down the halls of MTV on both coasts, with added security in wading boots posted on every floor for "observation" (translation: making sure downsized employees don't try to swipe a promotional copy of Trivial Pursuit: TRL Edition on their way out of the building).

After the jump: The Universal globe stops spinning for 70 unlucky souls.

Not even veteran talking head John Norris—who was very polite to us on the VMAs red carpet when we accidentally wandered into his shot and asked where we might find Britney's elephant—was immune. Over at Paramount, meanwhile, a behooded, shirtless, chaps-wearing Sumner Redstone (he doesn't particularly like playing executioner—but when he has to, he goes for it whole hog) stands guard at a ceremonial guillotine set up in studio square, awaiting word on when to release the symbolic blade that will officially cut further salaries from the payroll. We're told supervisors are still in a meeting, and the rest of the staff is defecating masonry in anticipation. We'll have a report for you from the inside a little later.

Over at NBC Universal, Deadline Hollywood Daily reports, the belts are being tightened to gastric-bypass levels. Personal printers are strictly verboten, no new office supplies will be purchased for six months, everyone must travel (*gasp*) one class-level down, and Jeff Zucker himself will be reviewing temps' overtime charges. So don't even try it, A1 Personnel Placing Services recommendee.

500 job cuts throughout the company will follow, THR reports—including a "3% headcount reduction" at Universal Pictures, as chairman and co-chairman Marc Shmuger and David Linde's Christmas card thoughtfully put it. That's about 70 positions worldwide. The text follows:

Dear Colleagues,

As we strive to meet the challenges presented by the struggling economy, leaders from every department at Universal Pictures have worked hard to identify cost saving measures in many areas of our business. Those measures include scaling back on travel, overtime, consultants, premieres, conferences, newspaper marketing and general administrative costs.

While much has been accomplished to find necessary savings, we regret that we must also reduce headcount by around 3%. No company likes to have to make these kinds of decisions, and certainly we are no exception. We want to assure you that everyone has done their best to keep job cuts to an absolute minimum.

The process of communicating with those individuals whose positions are affected has begun today and will continue for the next few days.

We appreciate the effort from everyone who has participated in this difficult process.

Sincerely,
Marc Shmuger and David Linde