June 21, 2011 / 10:26 PM / 6 years ago

Roger Ebert defends Tweet about "Jackass" star

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Film critic Roger Ebert on Tuesday defended an admonition against drunk driving he posted on Twitter in response to the death of "Jackass" star Ryan Dunn, who was photographed drinking before his car crash.

But the influential Chicago Sun-Times movie critic, who has come under fire from "Jackass" star Bam Margera and online commentators, also expressed regret that his Twitter one-liner, which was posted on Monday, was considered cruel.

Dunn died Monday and Ebert tweeted, "Friends don't let jackasses drink and drive."

Dunn, 34, a bearded daredevil who co-starred in the "Jackass" movie franchise featuring pranks and stunts, was killed along with his passenger Zachary Hartwell when the car Dunn was driving careened off a highway in Pennsylvania and burst into flames, police said.

Authorities will not know for certain if alcohol played a role in the crash until at least four weeks, when they have the results of toxicology tests, according to media reports.

But Dunn posted a photo to Twitter shortly before the crash, which seemed to show him drinking with friends.

Ebert wrote an online blog post on Tuesday to explain and defend the tweet that some had considered insensitive.

The critic began by offering his sympathy to the family and friends of Dunn and Hartwell.

"I also regret that my tweet about the event was considered cruel," Ebert said in his post. "It was not intended as cruel. It was intended as true."

Ebert noted that media reports have said Dunn drank three light beers and three shots before he took the wheel.

"I don't know what happened in this case, and I was probably too quick to tweet," Ebert wrote. "That was unseemly."

Nevertheless, Ebert ended his post on Tuesday with the catchphrase, "Friends don't let friends drink and drive."

The critic's original tweet drew an angry response from Margera, who as a young man made home video stunts with Dunn and later starred with him in three "Jackass" movies.

"I just lost my best friend, I have been crying hysterical for a full day and (expletive) roger ebert has the gall to put in his 2 cents," Margera wrote.

Editing by Bob Tourtellotte

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