Rudy Ruettiger rootin’ for Newton

Notre Dame folk hero Rudy Ruettiger has joined Wayne Newton’s comeback team.

Ruettiger, 62, was the undersized Notre Dame football walk-on whose inspirational story was immortalized in the film “Rudy.”

Since May, Ruettiger has been involved in shooting a documentary of the transformation of Newton’s Casa de Shenandoah ranch into a Graceland-style tourist attraction. A crew from Ruettiger’s production company shot footage Monday of Newton’s first public airing of his ambitious plans for the 38-acre estate.

Construction crews have been pouring concrete and working on the ranch for months, a sign that Newton and his investors are confident the project will get the green light from Clark County.

Newton, 68, is looking to reverse financial setbacks that have played out in the headlines over the years as his career waned.

Newton’s attorney, Jay Brown, addressed the Las Vegas legend’s financial status during the neighborhood gathering, saying the Newtons “have no debt.”

Ruettiger, a Henderson resident for years, was in the news recently when Notre Dame great Joe Montana suggested in a radio interview that Hollywood had taken liberties in “Rudy,” making the scout-team player one of the school’s most celebrated names.

Ruettiger, who weighed only 165 pounds, was allowed to suit up for the final home game of the 1975 season and came off the bench late in the game to sack Georgia Tech’s quarterback, the only tackle of Ruettiger’s career.

According to Notre Dame lore, Ruettiger was only the second player in school history to get carried off the field by his team.

Montana, then a freshman at Notre Dame, told radio host Dan Patrick this month that the triumphant scene, with Ruettiger being hoisted and hauled off by his teammates, was an exaggeration.

“The guys carried him off, kind of playing around,” Montana said. “I won’t say it’s a joke, but playing around.”

Montana added that Ruettiger “worked his butt off to get where he was and do what he did.”

THE SCENE AND HEARD

It won’t be easy to top the New Year’s Eve splash planned by Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas: They’re celebrating the opening by bringing in Coldplay and Jay-Z and broadcasting the performances live on the resort’s 65-foot-high digital marquee overlooking Las Vegas Boulevard.

SIGHTINGS

No Doubt’s Gwen Stefani, making an appearance Wednesday at Madame Tussauds for the unveiling of her wax likeness. … Jimmy Emerson, in his Anna Nicole Smith persona, filled in for Frank Marino as emcee of “Divas Las Vegas” (Imperial Palace). Emerson’s pinch-hitting appearance was loaded with irony. He and Marino feuded during much of their “La Cage” years. And this: Marino has been recovering from gall bladder surgery; Emerson collapsed backstage in 2008 during a gall bladder attack. Marino was to return tonight to mark his 25th anniversary on the Strip. … Actor David Arquette and Beacher’s Madhouse creator Jeff Beacher, partying at Blush Boutique Nightclub on Tuesday.

THE PUNCH LINE

“They say the recession ended in June of last year. What they don’t tell you is that the next recession began in July of last year.” — Jay Leno

Norm Clarke can be reached at (702) 383-0244 or norm@reviewjournal.com. Find additional sightings and more online at www.normclarke.com.

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