LOS ANGELES — William Shatner is defending himself on Twitter as his decision to skip Leonard Nimoy’s funeral Sunday became front-page tabloid fodder.
Nimoy died Friday at 83. He was best known for his portrayal of “Star Trek’s” logic-driven, half-human science officer Spock, an ally and foil to Shatner’s earnest Captain Kirk.
Shatner explained in a series of tweets Saturday that he was in Florida for a Red Cross Ball and could not make it to Los Angeles in time for Sunday’s service. His daughters will represent the family, he said.
“I feel really awful. Here I am doing charity work and one of my dearest friends is being buried,” he tweeted Saturday. “So let’s spend some time tomorrow celebrating Leonard’s life and remembering the man.”
Apparently, that explanation did not satisfy for everyone, with some asking “what could possibly be more important?”
“You’d think the Red Cross folks would understand that emergencies change plans, no?” journalist Charlie White tweeted at him.
New York radio host Todd Schnitt offered a solution: “Do Red Cross event and then private jet to LA.”
The New York Daily News anointed him “Captain Jerk” on its front page Sunday for claiming he could not “beam up” in time for the event. In response, Shatner shared the image and invited people to “discuss it.”
“I chose to honor a commitment I made months ago to appear at a charitable fundraiser. A lot of money was raised. So here I am; tell me off.”
People immediately took up his invitation, by and large siding with him.
“Mourning is personal. You mourn how you need to, not how @NYDailyNews wishes,” one person said.
Meanwhile, Shatner fired off responses on Twitter to his detractors.
“Walking out on a major fundraiser wouldn’t have you calling me a jerk for leaving a charity high & dry? Hmm?” he said.
He also encouraged people to join him on Twitter to celebrate Nimoy’s life.
“I asked if you all would be interested in celebrating Leonard’s life today. Why don’t we reconvene at noon ET/ 9am PT and begin.”