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Affleck's got a lot to catch up on

We could be seeing a whole lot of Ben Affleck around town this weekend, and what with the Sox trying to extend their lead over the Yanks, how could he stay away? The Cambridge homeboy will be at Sunday's ground breaking for the Greater Boston Food Bank's new distribution center in Roxbury, but he's expected to arrive early with his wife, "Alias" star Jennifer Garner, and their little girl, Violet, to catch some baseball. Garner's "Alias" dad, Victor Garber, is starring in the Huntington Theatre Company's production of "Present Laughter," so a night of theater may be in order, too.

Obama gets a tasty fund-raiser

Sounds like some Left-leaning ladies will be out in force to welcome Senator Barack Obama's wife, Michelle, to a big Cambridge shindig tomorrow . Held at the home of Annette Nova (her hubby, Dan, cofounded Lycos and is now with Highland Capital), the $500-a-person fund - raiser for "Women for Obama" is boasting quite a guest list, including lawyer Cheryl Cronin, John Hancock's Carol Fulp, PR maven Anne-Marie Aigner, literary agent Helen Rees, and politico Thaleia Tsongas Schlesinger, sister of the late Senator Paul Tsongas. Chefs Jody Adams, Joanne Chang, Deborah Hughes, Susan Regis, and Ana Sortun will be cooking up something special .

O’Malley aims to hit the ballpark

He's only in town briefly, but super Sox fan Mike O'Malley will be at the ballpark tonight. While he's waiting to see if TBS picks up a pilot he wrote, the "Yes, Dear " star told us he's been busy making movies, including "Leatherheads, " directed by George Clooney. "Don't drop your popcorn or tie your shoe because you'll miss me," cracked O'Malley, who plays a reporter in the film. He's also has a part in the Eddie Murphy movie "Starship Dave ."

Bessent is Kennedy Lawford pad buyer

The new owner of the plush New York pad formerly owned by JFK's kid sister, Patricia Kennedy Lawford, has been ID'd. Scott Bessent, a former business partner of billionaire George Soros, bought the 11-room duplex at 1 Sutton Place for -- wait for it -- $12 million. Bessent, who now runs a hedge fund with $1 billion in assets, is active in New York gay organizations, including the Empire State Pride Agenda, a political lobbying group, and God's Love We Deliver, which feeds AIDS patients.

Lobel wants to get back in action
Talk about a pain in the neck. Three weeks ago, WBZ's Bob Lobel had surgery on four vertebrae in his spine. Ouch. But what he's really bummed about is being off the air since then, especially since the Sox are hosting the Yankees this weekend and the Pats have started passing camp. "I've never been off the air this long in my 30 years at the station," he said yesterday, adding that he hopes to be in front of the cameras again next week. Lobel did rally enough strength to be Mike Barnicle's guest at Fenway the other night, along with former GE honcho Jack Welch. "Great seats. Great game," said Lobel. . . . For a 33-year-old financial planner from Methuen, Tommy Grella has a lot of swagger about his skills in the kitchen. "I think I can compete against most people," said Grella. And the amateur chef gets his wish when he faces 10 other contestants on "The Next Food Network Star," which kicks off Sunday on, aptly enough , the Food Network. The self-taught chef learned his craft by watching TV chefs of yore . "It's not that I don't have any experience," said Grella, who's sworn to secrecy about how he fares on the show. "I've worked the line at various restaurants, it was just not something I've done full time."

It was a veritable wave of Sox players and their families at the Showcase Theatre in Randolph yesterday for a special screening of animated film "Surf's Up," opening June 8. Tim Wakefield and Curt Schilling brought their broods, and Jonathan Papelbon, Doug Mirabelli, Jason Varitek, Mike Lowell, Dustin Pedroia, and J.D. Drew were also spotted. Pitcher Mike Timlin was a no-show but his wife, Dawn, brought the family, as did David Ortiz's wife, Tiffany.

Yankees star Alex Rodriguez was spotted yesterday walking with his wife, Cynthia, near the State House, just days after he caused a stir by being photographed entering a Toronto hotel with another woman.

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