Basically, you have your lawyers call their lawyers.
Licensing a TV show or film usually goes through the production company — you can find that on imdb for movies. So, for example, to license Stargate Universe you would call up Rob Cooper at Syfy, or more likely you'd go through their original programming department at 100 Universal City Plaza. Licensing a book generally goes through the author's agent, or the publisher, depending on who owns the rights.
This seems like a simple transaction, but there are many important details:
It's expensive. Really expensive. The cost varies with the popularity of the product license, whether you're getting exclusive or nonexclusive rights, whether you'll end up owning the game yourself or you're doing the work or hire, the personality of the executive producer involved, etc. Usually it is an up front cash licensing fee and then some percentage of revenue. The cost can range from several hundred thousand dollars for a Nintendo DS port of a minor childrens' animated series, to many millions for primetime brands.
A failed game can harm the parent brand. So, most production companies need to be confident that the licensing studio can make a successful product, on budget, without missing milestones. Typically that means you need to be an established studio, or a well-funded one, or have some kind of relationship with the rightsolder where you're doing it as work-for-hire, or they own equity in you, or something like that.
Hollywood is a cliquish business; deals are made through networks of relationship and trust. This is why you need an experienced IP lawyer or agent to land licensing deals: you need someone who knows exactly who to reach, how to call them, and how to broker a deal with all the people who need to be involved. That's what's meant by "I'll have my people call your people."
So basically, to license a TV show, you need:
- To convince the production company that your studio will make a good game that helps the brand, on schedule, on time, without needing more money from them. That means either being an established business, or having all of your own funding lined up first, or doing the work for hire.
- Someone who knows a guy who knows a guy inside the company that can broker the deal between you.
- Lots of lawyers.