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Dorchester dad riding high on TV show

Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal better watch their backs. There's a new cowboy in town. Dorchester's Joe McEachern is saddled up and ready for Friday's hourlong finale of ''Cowboy U: Oklahoma," the CMT reality show that transforms city slickers into real-life bull riders. (Boston's Gina DeFreitas is also a finalist.) ''The closest I'd ever been to a ranch is a petting zoo," confesses McEachern, who works for Boston Water and Sewer. Even still, the married father of four survived the show's brutal boot camp and could saunter off with the $25,000 grand prize. (McEachern's posse is watching the finale at Florian Hall in Dorchester.) Asked if he's seen the gay-themed ''Brokeback Mountain," McEachern said no. ''The movie and what we did are two completely different things."

A homecoming for Brandeis painting

In time for his 150th birthday, ''Louis Brandeis" is returning to the university that bears his name. Andy Warhol's portrait of the famed US Supreme Court justice has been given to the Rose Art Museum at Brandeis by Mark Feldman and his family. ''We just felt it belonged there," said Feldman, a business consultant who lives in Newton. In 1980, Warhol painted ''Ten Portraits of Jews of the Twentieth Century," a series that featured Brandeis, Albert Einstein, Sigmund Freud, the Marx Brothers, Golda Meir, Franz Kafka, Gertrude Stein, Martin Buber, George Gershwin, and Sarah Bernhardt. ''Warhol is one of the towering figures in 20th-century art," said Michael Rush of the Rose, ''and for him to have painted a portrait of the individual who inspired our university combines two great figures of the last century."

Garner makes quite an appearance

Ben Affleck's better half, Jennifer Garner, made her first public appearance since giving birth to baby Violet, speaking Sunday in LA. Looking radiant as ever, the ''Alias" actress hosted the annual I Have a Dream event at the House of Blues, where Affleck's ''Changing Lanes" costar Samuel L. Jackson was honored. . . . As he makes the transition from music to movies, turns out Justin Timberlake's trying to emulate Mark Wahlberg. ''He did it in a smart way," the 'N Syncer says of the Dorchester dude. ''He took some time off from the music and took roles where he could show some real chops. I guess I'm close to doing the same thing." . . . Watching James Frey get flayed for the fabrications in ''A Million Little Pieces" gave Marcus Baram an idea. ''We thought it'd be a fun challenge to look at other memoirs and see what we could find," said Baram, a freelance journalist who grew up in Belmont. On his blog -- theinvestigators.blogspot.com -- Baram's offering lunch in New York with a book agent to the reader who uncovers the biggest lie in a memoir. Among the authors whose work Baram thinks may be worth a look are: Augusten Burroughs, Nick Flynn, Catherine Millet, Dave Eggers, Frank McCourt, Lance Armstrong, and Anthony Bourdain.

'Tonight Show' pair stop by for laughs

Backstage before his Comedy Connection gig, ''Stuttering" John Melendez said he's trying to get his boss, Andover's own Jay Leno, to broadcast from the Faneuil Hall club. Melendez was drinking a beer with fellow ''Tonight Show" toadie Ross Matthews.

Around town

''Law & Order" actor Sam Waterston was in town over the weekend honoring Stephanie and Jonathan Warburg, founders of the Max Warburg Courage Curriculum. . . . Harvard prof Henry Louis ''Skip" Gates Jr. was spotted at Rialto Saturday night. His PBS documentary ''African American Lives" debuts tomorrow and features Oprah Winfrey, Whoopi Goldberg, Chris Tucker, Quincy Jones, and T.D. Jakes. . . . On Saturdays in March, Broad Comedy will be taking the stage at the Stuart Street Playhouse. The acting company does comedic sketches on such topics as male sensitivity training and Brazilian wax. Broad Comedy director Katie Goodman is co-artistic director of the Equinox Theatre Company in Bozeman, Mont., and daughter of Globe columnist Ellen Goodman.

A Boston pair is among the 11 teams competing in the ninth installment of CBS's ''The Amazing Race." Scott Braginton-Smith from West Harwich and John Lowe of Dorchester will compete in the trek around the world for the $1 million prize. . . . West Newton's Marcey Ford won the Patriots specialty license plate featuring No. 4 -- the jersey number of Pats' Adam Vinatieri. Ford won the plate in the ''Four the Fans" raffle sponsored by the New England Patriots Charitable Foundation. Nearly $25,000 was raised.

Catherine Foster of the Globe staff Contributed. Names can be reached at names@globe.com or at 617-929-8253.

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