An American Amazing Race producer was found dead of poisoning in an African hotel following a failed shakedown by local thugs, Fox News is reporting. Freelance producer Jeff Rice's assistant was also discovered critically ill from poisoning in the same Uganda hotel after the pair refused to comply with unspecified shakedown demands, reports the Daily Mail. "They were not attacked," but evidence "points to poison," Rice's wife, Sally Blackman, told Fox. Uganda authorities are investigating.
The father of two worked for years in Los Angeles before moving to South Africa in 2001. "Jeff was a dedicated father who made the most of his time with his family," says Blackman. "He has left a huge void, not only in the film industry, but with his family. We will miss his smile and constant humor." Rice worked on the about-to-debut 20th season of the around-the-world race program that pits teams against one another for a million-dollar prize. He had also worked on Animal Planet's Whale Wars, and the South African version of The Biggest Loser. He wasn't working on the Amazing Race when he was poisoned.