At Least 27 Dresses, 10 Ladies, Lots of Phones and A Movie

Three of the ladies in bridesmaid dresses who handed out gift bags for attendees of a special screening of "27 Dresses" last night at the Sundance Kabuki Cinemas in San Francisco, in an event that exchanged donated dresses for underprivileged high school girls in exchange for free new Palm Centro smartphones.  (All photos: Omar P.L. Moore)


By Omar P.L. Moore/The Popcorn Reel

January 11, 2008


There were ladies, dresses, pink gift bags, carnations and cell phones.  Though that last item did not disrupt the in-theater entertainment at the Sundance Kabuki Cinemas last night in San Francisco, cell phones and dresses took center stage as Palm, Inc. and The Princess Project coordinated an effort with Twentieth Century Fox to help launch its new film "27 Dresses", a romantic comedy which opens next Friday across the U.S. and Canada, to generate donations of prom dresses to high school girls who lack the funds to buy them.  The first 27 people who arrived to the theater with dresses to donate received a new Palm Smartphone, which Palm's top executive took a few moments to describe.  "We have a new product coming out, a pink version of our Palm Centro; it's a very popular device on the market right now," said Ed Colligan, Palm's CEO, citing the phone's appeal to predominantly female attendees of the event which included a special screening of "27 Dresses", which stars Katherine Heigl, who starred in the comedy "Knocked Up" last summer.  "Whenever we do promotions in general we can tie them in to something that's a good cause as well," Mr. Colligan continued, adding that the product tie-in and donation of dresses to young girls with less financial resources was "good for the community, as well as for the promotion of our products."

Not surprisingly the Centro itself appears in the film, which is directed by Anne Fletcher and written by Aline Brosh McKenna, who also scripted the 2006 film "The Devil Wears Prada", a runaway box-office smash two summers ago also released by Twentieth Century Fox.  "27 Dresses" boasts a sizable cast, including James Marsden ("Enchanted", "Hairspray"), Ed Burns ("One Missed Call") and Malin Akerman ("The Heartbreak Kid".)  Dozens of young women and several men waited patiently in line before being brought to the Kabuki's cinema auditorium entrance to get their free Centro.  For 27 fortunate souls any discernable sign of a wait worn on their faces quickly transformed into delight when instantly receiving a free brand-new phone, a gift celebrated with a smile, excitement and anticipation for the new film which was later shown on the biggest screen of the newly-renovated Sundance-owned theater in San Francisco's Fillmore District. 

The donation of dresses in exchange for free Palm cell phones simultaneously took place at movie theaters in numerous other U.S. cities including Boston,  Chicago, Los Angeles and New York City, according to Laney Whitcanack, co-founder of The Princess Project, the Bay Area-based organization which expects to grow and expand across the U.S. in the not-so distant future.  Said Ms. Whitcanack: "We are really excited to partner with Palm and the movie "27 Dresses", because the movie's all about a woman who has multiple bridesmaid's dresses.  Our organization provides free prom dresses to girls that can't otherwise afford them, and so we receive donations from women and girls, oftentimes of bridesmaid's dresses that we then give away in a really fun event to girls who are in need in the community."  She added that she was "excited" about the similar events being held across the U.S. in relation to the film, which she later stayed to watch. 

Judging from the continuous conga line of people with dresses to donate and free phones to receive and a movie to watch, Ms. Whitcanack was not alone.  As a steady stream of people came in as the movie was about to begin some event-goers wordlessly accepted pink gift bags.  Some of the men did so as well, adding that they were requesting them for their girlfriends or wives. 

The scene was a busy one at the Sundance Kabuki and balloons adorned the entrance to the auditorium, with young women dressed in fuchsia-colored t-shirts that had the logo for the film's title on the front and the words "always a bridesmaid, never a bride" in script on the back.  These and other ladies handed out the free phones and pink gift bags with a printed Palm logo.  There were donations of dresses that were welcomed after the limited supply of phones ran out.  Some donors had four or five dresses to give to The Princess Project.  By a quick rough count at least 45 dresses were donated, if not more, when all was said and done.  Asked in what capacity she was here in relation to the event tonight, one of the ladies handing out pink gift bags to event attendees said, "I'm here for the movie".  Asked to elaborate, she repeated with a smile, "I'm here for the movie."  Her fellow bridesmaids concurred: "we want to see the movie."

Presumably, they got their wish.


"27 Dresses", originally scheduled for release today, instead opens on Friday, January 18 in theaters across the U.S.  and Canada.  It is released across North America by Twentieth Century Fox.  For more about 27 Dresses visit

For more information about The Princess Project visit

For more information about Palm visit

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