William Shatner defended himself on Twitter this weekend after his decision to skip Leonard Nimoy’s Sunday funeral earned him the tabloid nickname “Captain Jerk.”
Nimoy, who died Friday at 83, was best known for his portrayal of “Star Trek” science officer Spock, a logic-driven 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 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.
But Shatner, never one to back down from a social media standoff, was just getting started. In between firing off responses to his detractors, he invited fans to join him on Twitter to celebrate Nimoy’s life.
Shatner fielded questions from fans about Nimoy during the impromptu tweetup, sharing memories of his “dear friend.”
He also stood firm in his decision to skip the service.
“Walking out on a major fundraiser wouldn’t have you calling me a jerk for leaving a charity high & dry? Hmm?”