An American television producer has been found dead in mysterious circumstances while working in Uganda, his brother-in-law told msnbc.com on Wednesday.
Paul Blackman said that family members had heard that poisoning was suspected in the death of father of two Jeff Rice, 39, who is originally from Oklahoma.
Blackman, who is the brother of Rice's wife Sally, added that the situation was unclear and relatives were trying to establish what exactly had happened
Rice, who previously worked for shows including "The Amazing Race" and Animal Planet's "Whale Wars," died on Friday night.
Rice's assistant, who Blackman declined to name, also became ill and was taken to a hospital in Uganda.
"We've sent people up there to get some answers," Blackman told msnbc.com by phone from Durban, South Africa. "Nothing is finalized yet.
Addressing media reports that Rice had been fatally poisoned, Blackman said: "I don't know where they are getting this 'definitely poisoned' thing."
Rice moved to South Africa about 13 years ago and holds dual citizenship, Blackman said. His wife is South African.
Rice's death was first reported by FoxNews.com.
'Really tough to handle'
Blackman said Wednesday morning that he was looking after their children, girls aged seven and two, while Sally Blackman tried to get information from the South African police.
He said his sister was finding the uncertainty "really tough to handle, but, yeah, she's strong."
"There's so much stuff in the air about possible poisoning, all that kind of stuff," Blackman said. "At the moment, we're trying to get Jeff's body out of there to get some answers."
Blackman said Rice had been "a historian, tour guide kind of person" in the United States and had started to work in television about three years ago. He and his wife ran SB Productions in Durban.
He added his brother-in-law was working on either a future show or documentary in Uganda.
"He was a fantastic producer apparently, a very, very sought-after producer," he said. "The messages (of condolence) coming in have been very, very good actually. It's been fantastic, he's a very well-liked character. He was a good guy, very relaxed and just a very good guy."
The "about us" section of SB Productions' website says Rice decided there were "better ways to spend his time" after five years "contributing to the stalemate of the 405 in LA."
"From pie in the sky to looking no futher than his nose, his mind is always churning. If Jeff isn't crunching budgets or breaking down scripts, he can probably be found in some unusual African location with his Power Book and a bottle of the local brew. Jeff has an incredibly calm nature and a wicked sense of humor," it adds.
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