MPAA chairman Dan Glickman was feted at a cocktail party in his honor tonight by a collection of studio chiefs, industry execs and trade association staff, as Hollywood’s chief lobbyist prepares to depart for a new post leading Refugees International.

Among those who gathered at MPAA headquarters in Sherman Oaks were Robert Iger, president and CEO of the Walt Disney Co.; Barry Meyer, chairman and CEO of Warner Bros. Entertainment and Ron Meyer, president and COO of Universal Studios.

Several noted that Glickman had big shoes to fill when he was tapped for the post in 2004, having succeeded Jack Valenti, who held the post for nearly four decades.

On a makeshift stage before the crowd, Iger, chairman of the Walt Disney Co., said to Glickman, “You followed a legend without trying to be a legend. You came in and called it your own. That is not an easy thing to do.”

To the gathering, Barry Meyer cited a list of Glickman’s accomplishments, such as strides that have been made in fighting piracy as well as in improving the D.C. focus on the industry as that of “a major exporter and driver of jobs” as opposed to an image of excesses. “By all criteria, objective and subjective, this has been a hell of a run,” Meyer said.

A search firm has been tapped to find a successor, with Bob Pisano, current MPAA COO, serving as interim chief executive when Glickman departs on April 1. Among the recent names floated is Bill Richardson, but he has said through a spokesman he is not interested in the job, and sources say he is not in the running.

Whoever takes the post will face a host of challenges, not the least of which is finding consensus among the MPAA’s member companies.

Others present included Joan Graves, head of the org’s Classification and Rating Administration; AMPTP chief Carol Lombardini; Universal’s Rick Finkelstein; and former Viacom Entertainment Group chairman Jonathan Dolgen. Also there was Glickman’s wife, Rhoda, and his son, Jonathan, who is president of Spyglass Entertainment Group.

Barry Meyer noted that “the fact that the companies have grown and expanded has made wrangling our own group more and more of a challenge.” Nevertheless, he noted that the MPAA has had more meetings in the last six years than they had in the previous 20.

(In the day-after-the-Oscars hangover, the quip of the evening went to Iger. Taking the stage after Meyer, he noted the length of his fellow studio chief’s remarks and said, in some playful ribbing, “Barry, you went into such detail you forgot to tell us where Dan was circumcised.”)

Glickman, who called the movie business “as important to American strength as any weapon system,” said he “would be a big advocate for this business no matter where I am.”

He also revealed that in his years with the MPAA he still paid to go to the movies — as opposed to using free passes — and that he’d still do so, with his AARP discount.