The governor was last week slammed for being given the award when his state had by far the worst COVID problem of anywhere in the country and when he made decisions like sending thousands of elderly patients back into nursing homes which triggered thousands more deaths.
Despite that decision, he has written a book about the pandemic titled Lessons in Leadership and received the International Founders Emmy.
On Monday, he accepted it virtually after being praised by Bruce Paisner, International Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, who said gushingly: ‘One man took it upon himself to use technology to spread information and tell citizens what to do.
‘Governor Cuomo’s daily press conferences were a whole new dimension of public education. He informed, he demanded and he calmed people down. No one who saw it will easily forget it.
Ben Stiller, Spike Lee, Robert DeNiro and Billie Joel all recorded congratulatory messages for Cuomo
Rosie Perez and Billy Crystal also gave loving tributes to the governor
‘People everywhere saw them. I have a friend who got up every morning in Abu Dhabi and watched them on YouTube.
‘As spring turned into summer, the people of New York went from fear of the unknown to increasing knowledge of what was known.’
Robert DeNiro said: ‘ Thank you for your leadership during these trying times. We are New York Tough- smart, disciplined, united and loving.’
Spike Lee said: ‘ Daily I was watching his press conferences, informing us- telling us what to do.’
Rosie Perez, who attended one of the press conferences and spoke with Chris Rock, said: ‘ You are the man! You did your thing – every single day you came on the airways and offered your strength and leadership.;
Ben Stiller joked: ‘Now you are the love guv. You’re really now a national sex symbol.
‘Congratulations again, anything you didn’t like that I said was your brother’s idea.’
Billy Crystal fawned over him: ‘ In the darkest days of the pandemic, your daily briefings live from New York gave us hope, gave us clarity, gave us the truth and gave us something that we were not getting from Washington: leadership. You are the epitome of New York tough.’
Billy Joel offered the strongest compliment. He said: ‘ In the midst of the storm, Andrew Cuomo became the nation’s governor. Stay safe and please wear a mask.’
Cuomo then spoke in pre-recorded acceptance speech where he spoke about the nation’s ‘destiny’.
‘What an honor and pleasant surprise during these hard times. I thank the international academy for this incredible award
‘Thank you to all the members of the academy. Your work has brought smiles and relief to so many people during these dark days. I wish I could say my daily COVID presentations were well choreographed, scripted, rehearsed or reflected any of the talents that you advance.
‘They didn’t they offered only one thing; authentic truth and stability. But sometimes that’s enough. Covid will go down in history books as one of the most difficult experiences in a generation. It has been a dark moment indeed. But what strikes me most is that wen things are at their worst, that’s when you can see people at their best. For all the darkness there was light,’ he said.
Oprah won the award in 2005. Steven Spielberg won the award in 2006
He went on: ‘People worked together. Everyone did what they could do. Our every day heroes, the doctors and nurses, who worked in emergency rooms. The police, the ambulance drivers, the food store employees – everyone who leaves the safety of their home every day so we can remain int he safety of ours. Actors used their talents to communicate essential facts to Americans.
Cuomo’s book, American Crisis, was published last month
‘Social distancing, safety and wear a mask, wear a mask because it’s common sense, it’s smart and we care about each other. I’m proud of New Yorkers who had the courage to tell the truth and the strength to stand together.
‘That’s what New York tough really means; to be tough enough to say I love you. I care about you. I need you.
‘To see past the color of skin, religion or sexual orientation to see the the humanity in each other. That we are all interconnected and interrelated.
‘Our destiny is not individually determined but rather determined by what we do together. That’s not just my message – it’s a universal message.
‘I appreciate the humor from my friends in the video and I take it in good stride. And to Ben Stiller – I only say NY tough means one more thing. It means Ben. I know where you live.
‘Thank you for this tremendous honor. Give love get love – we will get through this together and we will be the stronger for it.’
Previous recipients of the award include Oprah Winfrey and Steven Spielberg.
Social media erupted last week when it was announced that Cuomo was getting the award.