John Mayer usually doesn’t do duets (“It’s usually, ‘How would you like the opportunity to play with – drum roll – someone who sucks?’ ” he says), but he couldn’t pass up a chance to play with one of his idols, Paul Simon, at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame recently. “Paul Simon for me is such a huge part of my music,” Mayer tells us. “I don’t reference it all the time. But it’s really there. So it was brought to him, and lucky for me he agreed. It was a huge surprise. He wanted to do it, which to me was a huge compliment. I don’t imagine that Paul obliges many artists.” In the show (airing on VH1 June 15, as part of the Bailey’s “In Tune” duets series to be hosted by American Idol’s Randy Jackson), Mayer joins Simon on three of his mega-hits: “Boy in the Bubble,” “Late in the Evening,” and “Slip Sliding Away,” and Simon joins Mayer on his song “Daughters.” What was it like having Simon play on one of his tunes? “Scary,” Mayer says. “I was like, ‘He thinks this sucks.’ Hearing him sing my stuff is like getting James Earl Jones to read your bills to you. He’s overqualified. ”
Director Robert Rodriguez (Once Upon a Time in Mexico, Spy Kids) already had a high-wattage cast lined up for his latest film project, Sin City – including Bruce Willis, Josh Hartnett, Nick Stahl, Jessica Alba, Elijah Wood, Carla Gugino and Jaime King – but that didn’t stop him from adding Benicio Del Toro and Clive Owen to his roster. Del Toro was spotted at Austin hotspot Red Fez recently for “Hip Hop Sunday,” and though the Oscar winner caught the eye of bartenders and revelers, the “cool, underground hip-hop crowd kept calm and let (him) have some fun,” says club owner Matt Luckie. Sin City, a noir drama based on the graphic novel series by Frank Miller (who co-wrote the screenplay with Rodriguez), is due out next year, and is filming in Austin through this month.
Caught in the Act
• Jake Gyllenhaal, receiving one of Premiere magazine’s “New Power” awards at L.A. hotspot Concorde. With him: girlfriend Kirsten Dunst and pal Nicole Richie. Also at the club were are-they-or-aren’t-they couple Lindsay Lohan and Wilmer Valderrama, Mark Wahlberg, Andrew Firestone, Eve, That 70s Show’s Danny Masterson and Jack Osbourne.
• Mena Suvari, buying a pair of earrings – on sale – at the Celine store in Beverly Hills.
• By MARK DAGOSTINO, KELLY ROBERTS and MARISA LAUDADIO