Gianni Russo played Vito Corleone’s wife-abusing son-in-law, Carlo Rizzi, in the seminal 1972 mobster movie. In a recent interview, he shared his unabashed thoughts on Cuomo’s intense, profanity-filled rant after someone referred to him as “Fredo," a likely reference to the weakling brother played by John Cazale in the iconic film.
"No, punk-ass b—es from the right call me 'Fredo.' My name is Chris Cuomo. I'm an anchor on CNN," a heated Cuomo responded. "'Fredo' was from 'The Godfather.' He was a weak brother and they use that as an Italian slur — are any of you Italian?... It's a f--king insult to your people. It's an insult to your f--kin' people. It's like the N-word for us. Is that a cool f--king thing?"
Russo, who says he’s friends with the Cuomo family, told TMZ he was surprised that Chris would equate being called Fredo with an affront to Italian people.
“His father would smack him,” Russo said of the late former governor Mario Cuomo.
“I couldn’t understand, because he’s such an intelligent kid, educated and everything else. I heard he’s hurt his career,” the 75-year-old actor explained. “All these news guys, they’re so opinionated,” Russo continued. “They’re supposed to report the news. 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.”
Cuomo’s heated argument ended without violence. However, the reactions prompted an almost immediate apology from the CNN anchor on Twitter.
“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,” he wrote.