March 13, 2009 at 10:52 am

Reeves says Leno will consider Detroit show

Councilwoman criticized choice of Auburn Hills venue; organizer says it only matters to 'a few people.'

Reeves )

DETROIT -- City Councilwoman Martha Reeves has put her Rolodex to use, ringing entertainer Jay Leno and securing a promise that he'll consider a free performance in the city proper this year.

Days after objecting that the NBC star scheduled a free show in Auburn Hills for unemployed Michiganians, Reeves said she spoke to Leno about 2 p.m. Thursday and made her case for a gig in Motown. She hung up thinking that "he'll get around to" scheduling a show.

"He and I are longtime friends," said Reeves, the onetime leader of Martha and the Vandellas, who says her autograph was the first in Leno's collection.

Reeves caused a flap for complaining about the April 7 show at The Palace of Auburn Hills, but she makes no apologies, saying "panic struck my heart" when she learned about the event. She pressed for a show on April 6 at Joe Louis Arena, but he has a prior engagement near Boston.

"I told him that is wrong. It's an hour-and-a-half drive from my home," said Reeves, who lives downtown. "I told him to take no offense, but Auburn Hills is not Detroit."

Reeves reported that Leno told her he believed Auburn Hills was about 25 minutes outside the city. It's 31 miles. According to Yahoo Maps, it's a 34-minute drive, but many Detroiters report it can take an hour with traffic.

Tracy St. Pierre, NBC's director of entertainment publicity, confirmed that Leno and Reeves spoke on Thursday.

Leno was "taken off guard" by the councilwoman's objections about his "comedy stimulus plan," said Jeff Bouchard, of the Southfield-based entertainment agency Gail & Rice, which has been working with the comedian to set up the free concert.

"It never really dawned on us that people would even consider being resentful that it was outside (Detroit)," Bouchard said. "It's about doing things for people that are in need, and what difference does it make if you lost your job south of Eight Mile or north of Eight Mile? (Leno) doesn't see the differentiation at all, and he doesn't get what the hubbub is all about. Nobody, other than a few people in Detroit, really consider it so territorial."

Bouchard said Leno is happy to talk about future concerts, "but that's all 'schedule-permitting.' At this point, this is the only thing that's confirmed."

U.S. Rep. Candice Miller, R-Harrison Township, subtly weighed in late Thursday, issuing a press release welcoming Leno to "metro Detroit" with "open arms."

You can reach David Josar at (313) 222-2073.