Former basketball star Dennis Rodman is heading to North Korea for the second time this year for what he says is a visit to his friend, the communist nation’s leader, Kim Jong Un.
But he is playing down speculation his trip is aimed at freeing jailed Seattle missionary Kenneth Bae, saying there’s been “nothing promised.” Rodman spoke briefly to reporters Tuesday while transiting at Beijing’s airport on his way to Pyongyang.
“I’m going to North Korea to meet my friend, Kim,” he said. “It’s a friendly gesture.”
Rodman first met Kim – a basketball fan – during a visit in February to promote the sport and make a film. U.S. officials frowned on the trip for giving Kim a propaganda boost, but Rodman suggested “basketball diplomacy” could warm relations.
‘Fifty Shades’ lead roles casted
The big-screen adaptation of E.L. James’ “Fifty Shades of Grey” has cast its lead roles.
Charlie Hunnam will play the 27-year-old billionaire Christian Grey, and Dakota Johnson will play the college student he captivates, Anastasia Steele. Focus Features and Universal Pictures announced the castings Monday.
The 23-year-old Johnson is the daughter of actors Don Johnson and Melanie Griffith. She has had small roles in “The Social Network” and “21 Jump Street.”
The 33-year-old British actor Hunnam starred in this summer’s robot-monster battle “Pacific Rim.” He currently stars in the FX series “Sons of Anarchy.”
Directed by Sam Taylor-Johnson, the film is to be released next August.
‘Beetle Bailey’ creator turns 90
Beetle Bailey was known to be a lazy Army private, but the creator of the popular comic strip is getting accolades from top military brass and others as he celebrates his 90th birthday today.
Mort Walker is receiving good wishes from Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey, Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Dolly Parton and even Prince Albert II of Monaco.
He said in 2010 as the comic strip marked its 60th anniversary that he would continue with his creation until he’s no longer able.
The comic strip featuring Beetle Bailey, Sarge, Gen. Amos Halftrack and Miss Buxley has more than 200 million readers in 52 countries.
The birthday bunch
Rock singer-musician Al Jardine (The Beach Boys) is 71. Rock musician Donald Brewer (Grand Funk Railroad) is 65. Rock guitarist Steve Jones (The Sex Pistols) is 58. Actor Charlie Sheen is 48. Singer Jennifer Paige is 40. Dance-rock musician Redfoo (LMFAO) is 38. Actor Garrett Hedlund is 29.