Dan Snierson
September 29, 2000 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Wondering what kind of impact new cast member Charlie Sheen will have on ABC’s Spin City? For starters, check out the giant luxury bus parked near the sitcom’s soundstage in Studio City, Calif. ”You spend so much time in your trailer, you like to have something a little more like home,” he says of his princely pad, which includes six satellite TVs and a zebra-striped bed with mirrors above. ”It’s a good thing to have not just for me, but for the rest of the cast. I just want to blend in.”

Blend in? Sorry, Charlie. With ailing star Michael J. Fox gone, Sheen is riding shotgun with a busload of expectations. ”I can’t fill his shoes,” he says. ”All I can do is show up and do what I do.” Asked how many times he’s faced that question, he admits: ”About 100. But I believe my answer more each time I say it.”

Spin producers certainly were believers — they even scrapped plans to shut down the show. ”Mike was in pain, and it just seemed like it was over,” says exec producer Gary David Goldberg. ”Then slowly, the thought came, ‘There’s so much good here. Are there legitimate ways to keep it going?”’ Sheen thought so, agreeing to play Charlie Crawford, a slick ”bad boy” deputy mayor who’ll likely draw comparisons to his made-for-tabloids persona. (”If I’m going to have experienced all that embarrassment and trauma and despair,” he says, ”let’s now at least utilize some of it for a positive cause.”) Like Fox’s Mike Flaherty, he’ll spend his time sparring with Heather Locklear’s Caitlin, but the similarities end there. Notes Locklear, who appeared with Sheen in 1997’s buddy comedy movie Money Talks: ”It’s a completely different energy, physically, and in the speed that Michael [did] things and in the slow deliberateness that Charlie does. Put ’em next to each other and they’d just seem opposite.”

Sheen isn’t the only shiny new difference, though. Spin‘s unwieldy cast has been overhauled (goodbye, Connie Britton, Victoria Dillard, Alexander Chaplin; hello, Lana Parrilla, who’ll play Charlie’s and Caitlin’s feisty assistant). In addition, ”stories are going to be a lot more intra-family,” promises Goldberg. ”Last year we got deeply involved in the Senate campaign, which goes away very early this year.” And, yes, it’s possible Fox could return for an episode, but more likely he’ll consult from the sidelines. ”He said he feels like he’s leaving his child in the hands of a very trusted and capable guardian,” says Sheen. ”He said, ‘If you get stuck, lemme know and I’ll come down and give you some shortcuts.”’ Those might come in handy, especially since Sheen will be up against his dad’s hit series, NBC’s The West Wing. ”I wonder if there’s anybody in Vegas taking those odds,” he offers. ”Hopefully, we’ll both be in the top 10 and cruising along nicely.” Sounds like he’s already got this Spin thing down cold.

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