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American producer on hit CBS reality show the Amazing Race 'poisoned to death in Africa by a gang of local thugs' after confrontation

A freelance producer for reality TV show The Amazing Race has been found dead in his hotel room in Uganda after a suspected poisoning.

Father-of-two Jeff Rice and his assistant were apparently poisoned after refusing to give up their belongings to local thugs, reported.

A source told the news site that after refusing to give in to the men, Rice and his female assistant 'ended up very sick with poisoning of some kind'.

Loss: Production facilitator Jeff Rice (left, pictured with his brother), who worked for TV show The Amazing Race, has died after he was poisoned in Uganda

His wife Sally Blackman added that the woman, whom she did not name, remained in critical condition in hospital.

'They were not attacked but [evidence] points towards being poisoned,' she told

'His production assistant was also discovered in a coma and has been hospitalised in Uganda. She has not shown any improvement as yet.'

Uganda police are investigating the incident and no further details are available at this time, she added.

Rice and his assistant were part of a team that helped create challenges across Africa for the CBS show, The Amazing Race.

They were not working on the show at the time of the suspected poisoning, but they had helped with the current season, which hit screens on Sunday.

Success: Rice, with Ghanaian footballer Asamoah Gyan, ran SB Productions

Rice, originally from the United States, had worked in Los Angeles, California for five years before moving to Durban in South Africa.

He married Blackman in 2001 and they went on to have two children, now aged seven and one. He had planned to travel home this week to celebrate his daughter's second birthday.

'Jeff was a dedicated father who made the most of his time with his family when back home in South Africa,' his wife told

'He has left a huge void, not only in the film industry, but with his family he has left behind. We will miss his smiles and constant humor.'

In 1999, Rice and Blackman founded SB Productions, which produces and facilitates films, adverts, documentaries and television shows.

Grief: Adventurer and TV personality Josh Gates expressed his shock

Tragedy: Adventurer Josh Gates tweeted a picture of him and Rice. He wrote: 'A photo with Jeff Rice in Madagascar. I can't believe you're gone, buddy'

Its website describes Rice as 'the ideas man... His mind is always churning'.

'Jeff has an incredible calm nature and a wicked sense of humour,' it writes. 'Having played baseball as a kid, he is always ready for the next curve ball. Jeff has the knack for putting together great teams.'

Enlarge Creative: His company website describes Rice as 'the ideas man'

He also ran the production company Maverick Entertainment, which had employed the assistant.

His wife said it had been his intention for the company to work throughout Africa.

'He loved the African people and was driven to share in all the various cultures,' she said.

Among other projects, Rice worked on Animal Planet's Whale Wars and the South African version of The Biggest Loser.

As a facilitator, Rice would have been hired by the production company to make arrangements with local officials before teams arrived for filming.

Friends of the late producer flocked to Twitter to express their shock at his untimely death.

American TV personality and adventurer Josh Gates wrote: 'Floored by the loss of my dear friend and adventurer, Jeff Rice. You were, quite simply, the real deal. I'll never forget you.'

Gates tweeted a picture of the two men, writing: 'A photo with Jeff Rice in Madagascar. I can't believe you're gone, buddy.'

Work: Rice helped producers on The Amazing Race, which follows teams as they travel around the world for a prize of $1 million. He worked on its latest season

Rex Williams, from Syfy's Destination Truth, wrote: 'Lost my great friend, Jeff Rice. I can't tell you how saddened we are. He was a true adventurer.'

The Amazing Race, which first aired in 2001 and is in its 20th season, shows teams of two racing around the world for a prize of $1 million.

This season of the show, which garners some of the network's biggest ratings, features teams racing across five continents and 22 cities.

The show's production company, Jerry Bruckheimer Films, had 'no knowledge' of the incident. CBS did not comment on Rice's death.

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Added: Feb-22-2012 Occurred On: Feb-22-2012
By: Zipper10
Regional News
Tags: CBS, producer, poisoned, amazing, race, thugs,
Location: Uganda (load item map)
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