LOS ANGELES - It took a Brit to sum up the state of the Writers Guild of America strike, which is now more than six weeks old.

"This winter is going to be Valley Forge," British actor and comedian Eddie Izzard said at Friday's Write Aid, a WGA benefit staged at UCLA's Royce Hall by several comics.

Despite the laughs, spirits did need lifting in the entertainment community as an end to the writers strike appears further away than ever.

Jonathan Handel, a former lawyer for the WGA, said he thought the guild and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, the group across the table from WGA negotiators, wouldn't sit down again for at least a month or two.

He predicts the AMPTP and the Directors Guild of America will conclude their own contract talks, set to begin in January, before talks with the WGA resume.

And with the guild's recent filing of a labor complaint over AMPTP's exit from negotiations, relations between the two parties are at an all-time low.

"I think that January is really the critical month," said Carlton Cuse, an executive producer of

Lost

and a member of the WGA negotiating committee.

"There's still time, if we can make a deal, to salvage the remnants of this television season," Cuse continued. "It'll be shorter, but it'll give us a chance to wrap up [our shows]. But more importantly, there is still a chance to salvage pilot season [in which potential fall shows are created]. If January comes and goes without a deal, you're really looking at this television season and next television season being cratered, as far as scripted shows go."

But just as the January-to-April pilot season may undergo serious changes, even if the strike is settled, many other changes and new endeavors are being contemplated by networks and studios, including year-round debuts for shows and fewer episodes in a season, as a recent Variety story noted.

One of the main issues of the strike is WGA jurisdiction over mobisodes, Webisodes, and other Internet content. Those endeavors, whether created for traditional companies or non-Hollywood firms, are not covered by the guild's current contract. And it would be in the WGA's interest to work out deals with new-media firms, so compensation for those ventures included contributions to pension and health funds.

Edward Allen Bernero, executive producer of

Criminal Minds

, noted, "There are a number of companies - Google, Yahoo, Apple, Dell - with billions of dollars that they want to invest."

And the strike has "hastened these changes and [the creation of] new models," said Neal Baer, executive producer of

Law & Order: SVU

and a member of the WGA negotiating committee.

Still, writers understand that the big media companies do some things very well. They have the money and professional resources to create quality entertainment, and they're very good at promoting their products.

"I like working with NBC Universal. I like the fact that they promote my show," Baer said. "They do that really well. I can't do that - I'm not a publicist."