Inside David Granger’s Farewell Party With Bill Murray, Tom Hardy and James Franco

David Granger -Party-H 2016
Courtesy of Henry Phillips/Gear Patrol

What is it like to go to your boss’ goodbye fete when your boss was the editor-in-chief of Esquire magazine for 19 years? Think shattered cocktail glasses, a speech by Mary-Louise Parker and a video tribute starring luminaries from Hollywood (Judd Apatow), comedy (Keegan-Michael Key) and sports (Lance Armstrong).

We were halfway through the salad course when Bill Murray’s jolly head peeked around the door frame, “I heard you might be back here!” David Granger, editor-in-chief of Esquire magazine, was hosting his tri-annual intern lunch in the back room of the low-key, midtown Italian joint — and unlikely celebrity hangout — Da Tommaso.

As much as showing up unannounced at a lunch for a group of dumbstruck interns is a classic Murray move, throwing the festive, wine-fueled lunch for the lowliest members of his masthead is classic Granger. As Granger’s assistant over the last two years, I’ve been around for countless moments like that. Receiving dispatches from Milan with subject lines like, “Remind me: We need to send Tom Cruise a coconut cake,” running downstairs to deliver an issue to the Queen of Jordan, and picking up the phone to find Donald Trump on the other line was all standard daily fare. And no matter how many National Magazine Awards he’s scooped up (16, but who’s counting?) Granger’s stayed firmly grounded through it all.

This Monday, a couple hundred of those who’ve been lucky enough to join David’s circle gathered at Danny Meyer’s Porchlight in Chelsea to raise a glass (or 10) to our friend as his brilliant 19-year tenure at Esquire comes to a close. The literati, of course, came out in full force: GQ editor Jim Nelson rubbed shoulders with W’s Stefano Tonchi and Elle’s Robbie Myers and authors Lee Child and Colum McCann. Guests snacked on Creole-themed bites and sipped Granger’s favorite cocktail, the Tequila Manhattan. It was hardly past 7 p.m. when an editor sidled up to the bar, shattered her glass, and without missing a beat, deadpanned: “Another Manhattan, thanks.”

Meanwhile, Esquire contributor Mary-Louise Parker, in a backless red top and snakeskin heels, quieted the room for a speech: “When I found out Granger was leaving, I called the offices to demand that they remove my name from the masthead ... Turns out they already did that a year ago.” Then she introduced a 10-minute tribute film, in which admirers riffed on Granger’s signature toast, “Here’s to you and f— everybody else.” Bill Murray made an appearance in the clip, as did James Franco, Judd Apatow (“Wherever you go, I hope it goes well and I hope somehow it benefits me”),Tom Hardy (in ever-bizarre character, of course, as “Nefarious Mick the Tiler of London Town”), Ted Allen, John Mayer (“The only person, maybe, who was both a writer for Esquire and dubbed the year’s worst dressed"), Keegan-Michael Key, Paul Feig (“We never got walking sticks to become popular!”), Lance Armstrong and Nick Offerman.

For one night, our jobs were as glamorous as we like to tell people they are. It was the end of something big, and we all felt the weight of it. But there was not an ounce of somberness in that room — only gratitude, laughter and awe for Granger and his career. As his guests staggered out to soak up the booze with burgers and sing karaoke at the afterparty, Granger exited the room to a rousing round of “For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow.” Which nobody can deny.