North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, left, and former NBA star Dennis Rodman watch an exhibition basketball game on Thursday. (Associated Press)
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, left, and former NBA star Dennis Rodman watch an exhibition basketball game on Thursday. (Associated Press)

Rodman hanging with new pal Kim

Ex-NBA star Dennis Rodman hung out Thursday with North Korea leader Kim Jong Un on the third day of his improbable journey with a New York media company to Pyongyang, watching the Harlem Globetrotters with the leader and later dining on sushi and drinking with him at his palace.

“You have a friend for life,” Rodman told Kim before a crowd of thousands at a gymnasium where they sat side by side, chatting as they watched players from North Korea and the U.S. play, Alex Detrick, a spokesman for the New York-based VICE media company, told the Associated Press.

Rodman arrived in Pyongyang on Monday with three members of the professional Harlem Globetrotters basketball team, VICE correspondent Ryan Duffy and a production crew to shoot an episode on North Korea for a new weekly HBO series.

The unlikely encounter makes Rodman the most high-profile American to meet Kim since the young North Korean leader took power in December 2011, and takes place against a backdrop of tension between Washington and Pyongyang.

Kim, a diehard basketball fan, told the former Chicago Bulls star he hoped the visit would break the ice between the United States and North Korea. Kim and Rodman chatted in English, but Kim primarily spoke in Korean through a translator.

Cowell launches online talent contest

Simon Cowell has taken over television screens and radio airwaves around the world. Now he’s taking aim at the Internet.

Cowell’s Syco Entertainment empire and YouTube announced Thursday that they are launching “You Generation,” a global online talent contest that is seeking entries from people with “unconventional and original talents” – from musicians and photographers to makeup artists, magicians and chefs.

Syco says the contest, which starts next month and is due to run for a year, will seek auditions in a different category of talent every two weeks.

The birthday bunch

Actor Robert Clary is 87. Singer Harry Belafonte is 86. Actor Robert Conrad is 78. Rock singer Roger Daltrey is 69. Actor Alan Thicke is 66. Actor-director Ron Howard is 59. Actor Tim Daly is 57. Actor George Eads is 46. Actor Javier Bardem is 44. Pop singer Justin Bieber is 19.


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