Former basketball star Dennis Rodman left North Korea on Monday, but he plans to return next month – even if a sponsor won’t be with him.
Rodman’s short visit was aimed at finalizing plans to bring 11 other former NBA players to Pyongyang for a Jan. 8 exhibition game marking Kim Jong Un’s birthday. The two struck up a friendship when Rodman first traveled to the secretive state earlier this year, but Rodman did not answer questions from the media on whether he had met with Kim this time.
Rodman is the highest-profile American to meet Kim since the leader inherited power from his father in late 2011.
He wants to bring the group of players to Pyongyang for the exhibition but has acknowledged that some of the Americans have been reluctant to come. He held tryouts for the North Korean team during his visit, which began Thursday. He has said he expects to announce the U.S. roster soon and that he is planning another game in June.
Later Monday, though, Irish betting company Paddy Power PLC – a driving force behind the exhibition – said it had cut ties with Rodman.
“Given changed circumstances, Paddy Power has decided to withdraw its association with the Dennis Rodman basketball initiative in North Korea,” the company said in a statement.
Rowling working on Harry Potter play
Harry Potter has traveled from page to screen – and now to stage.
J.K. Rowling said Friday she is working on a play about the boy wizard’s life before he attended Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
Rowling’s seven-book saga begins when Harry, an unloved orphan grudgingly raised by his aunt and uncle, receives a letter informing him he is a wizard.
Rowling said in a statement that the play will “explore the previously untold story of Harry’s early years as an orphan and outcast.”
Rowling will be a co-producer on the show, along with veteran British theater producers Sonia Friedman and Colin Callender. The statement said Rowling will collaborate with a writer but will not write the script herself.
The birthday bunch
Rock singer Mary Ramsey (10,000 Maniacs) is 50. Actor Mark Valley is 49. Actor Diedrich Bader is 47. Singer Ricky Martin is 42. “American Idol” host Ryan Seacrest is 39. Rock singer Louis Tomlinson (One Direction) is 22.