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1980s dance club pop star Izora Armstead dies

Izora Rhodes Armstead, who sang the 1980s dance club hit It's Raining Men as one half of the Weather Girls, died on Sept. 16, 2004. Her age was unknown. Ms. Armstead, who with partner Martha Wash started out as background singers for San Francisco disco diva Sylvester before forming the Weather Girls, died at a hospital in San Leandro, near San Francisco.

Ms. Armstead and Wash were known as Two Tons O' Fun when they sang on four Sylvester albums, including his No. 1 club hits, Dance (Disco Heat) and (You Make Me Feel) Mighty Real. Later they made three albums as the Weather Girls. One, Success, featured the 1983 song It's Raining Men.

For sale: 41 letters from President Reagan

The Raab Collection, an Ardmore-based house of manuscripts and historic letters, is selling 41 letters that former President Ronald Reagan wrote to his longtime confidante, California Sen. George Murphy.

The collection, which proprietor Nathan Raab says is estimated to be worth $225,000, includes Reagan's take on the media ("The media has taken over and delivers news in the framework of their bias"); his campaigns against President Jimmy Carter and Walter Mondale; the Iran-Contra scandal ("They haven't gotten the noose around my neck, and they won't because I've been telling the truth"); and the imminent fall of communism.

Check it out at www.raabcollection.com.

NBC fills Tuesday hole with "Biggest Loser'

As makeover shows go, it's pretty low-tech: A group of people loses weight and improves its collective appearance via diet and exercise, not massive amounts of cosmetic surgery.

But with The Contender pushed back, NBC needs something to open its Tuesday night when Last Comic Standing finishes its all-star throwdown in a few weeks.

Thus The Biggest Loser, hosted by comedian Caroline Rhea (Sabrina, the Teenage Witch), will hit the network's schedule at 8 p.m. Oct. 19.

The show will divide 12 overweight men and women into two teams.

Cameras will chronicle the participants' daily routines, along with weekly challenges. The person who sheds the most weight gets a $250,000 prize, plus improved health.

Food Network dishes out more "Iron Chef America'

Iron Chef is coming across the Pacific to stay. The Food Network is going forward with a weekly Iron Chef America series on the heels of a successful set of specials in the spring. Ten episodes will begin production next week for a January premiere.

Good Eats host Alton Brown will continue as play-by-play commentator. Challengers lined up include former Food Network host Ming Tsai and Frontera Grill owner Rick Bayless.

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