The Godfather star Gianni Russo said CNN anchor Chris Cuomo embarrassed himself when he declared that the term “Fredo” is as offensive to Italians as the N-word is to black Americans.
Last week, Cuomo was filmed reacting to someone calling him “Fredo,” a reference to the screw-up brother in the iconic film The Godfather, which tells the story of a fictional Italian crime family in New York.
“Punk-ass bitches from the right call me ‘Fredo.’ My name is Chris Cuomo. I’m an anchor on CNN,” Cuomo was filmed saying last week. “Fredo is from The Godfather, he was a weak brother. Any of you Italian? Are you Italian? It’s a fucking insult to your people. It’s an insult to your fucking people. It’s like the n-word for us. Is that a cool fucking thing?”
Russo, who played Godfather Vito Corleone’s abusive son-in-law, Carlo Rizzi, in the iconic mobster film, told TMZ in an interview that Cuomo’s father, the late Governor of New York Mario Cuomo, would “smack” his son if he heard him making such a comparison.
“I can’t believe that he would say that,” Russo began. “First of all I knew the whole family, his father would smack him.”
The interviewer then asked Russo whether his father would feel “ashamed of his son.”
“Of course. I don’t understand why [he said it]… I mean it’s a classic film, you’re talking about a character that was weak,” Russo responded. “I couldn’t understand, because he’s such an intelligent kid, educated and everything else. I heard he’s hurt his career.”
“All these news guys, they’re so opinionated, they’re supposed to report news,” Russo continued. “It’s not about what you think. And you’re taking Fredo, a character from a classic? It’s like spitting on the Mona Lisa.”
Following last week’s incident, Cuomo took to social media to apologize, declaring he “should be better” than getting in heated confrontations with hecklers.
“Appreciate all the support but – truth is I should be better than the guys baiting me. This happens all the time these days. Often in front of my family,” he wrote on Twitter. “But there is a lesson: no need to add to the ugliness; I should be better than what I oppose.”
Appreciate all the support but – truth is I should be better than the guys baiting me. This happens all the time these days. Often in front of my family. But there is a lesson: no need to add to the ugliness; I should be better than what I oppose.
— Christopher C. Cuomo (@ChrisCuomo) August 13, 2019