Liane Bonin
April 20, 2000 AT 04:00 AM EDT

The prodigal son has returned, but he isn’t done rebelling just yet. Charlie Sheen, who is set to replace Michael J. Fox on ”Spin City” next season, will be going head to head against his father Martin Sheen’s ”The West Wing” in the network battle for Wednesday nights.

Still, the scheduling conflict has done nothing to dim the elder Sheen’s paternal pride. ”I was delighted Charlie decided to do it, because he was going to do a series last year and it didn’t pan out, so he was primed,” the elder Sheen tells EW Online. ”Really, the only problem is we’re on against each other. But at least his show is only a half hour.” The Sheens have decided to solve the problem of dueling time slots with some guest-starring spin control. ”We’ve agreed that I would appear on his show, and he would appear on mine,” the 59-year-old actor says.

This doesn’t mean the Sheens will be working together, however. ”We won’t meet each other on either show,” Martin says. ”In other words, the President will go to New York and talk to somebody on Charlie’s staff or meet the mayor, and Charlie might come to the White House, but I wouldn’t be in the residence. We thought it might be a funny thing.”

Charlie’s cameo won’t be the only change on ”West Wing,” which will be shifting the focus of its story lines to appeal to devoted fans. ”Now we can explore all those things we weren’t able to do in the first year, like family and background and personal things,” says Sheen, who reveals the first two episodes of the new season will emphasize flashbacks explaining how the president came into office. His Catholicism and battle with multiple sclerosis will also be examined later in the year. ”We’ll find out if my parents are still alive, and even how many children I have. The writers have only given me daughters, but I’ve been wanting sons,” he says.

Sheen’s own son might be happy to know his show crossover was a coup NBC’s most popular drama couldn’t even pull off. ”Not too long ago there was a great deal of talk about ‘The West Wing’ putting together a couple of episodes with ‘ER’ because we have the same producer,” Martin says. ”But it couldn’t be achieved because on ‘ER’ the president was Bill Clinton, and we couldn’t destroy their reality. We’re always reminded that my administration is a makey-up.” And we thought they only said that about Clinton.

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