CHARLIE SHEEN: FILIAL DUTY

The bond between Martin Sheen and his son Charlie, 25, was in evidence last summer in British Columbia when Charlie decided Dad was being mistreated while they were filming the recently released military drama, Cadence.

Martin was making his directorial debut and Charlie was starring. (Another Sheen son, Ramon Estevez, 27, had a smaller role.)

Martin wound up playing a tough Army sergeant, a role he originally had lobbied hard to give to his Malibu neighbor Gary Busey. But when filming began. Busey was "out of control and difficult from the moment he got there." according to an informed source. "He showed Martin no respect."

Busey was fired and Martin inherited the part. The Sheens' rep says Busey's leaving was mutually agreed upon by all parties. Busey's spokesman agrees that the actor misbehaved but says it was because Gary had returned to work too soon after his 1988 motorcycle accident.

What really happened? The source says, "Charlie went to the producers and said, 'Either Busey goes or I go.' " Charlie prevailed.

MEL GIBSON SAYS YES, BUT JULIA ROBERTS WANTS TO WAIT

In Hollywood, timing is often everything. Take the case of venerable producer Ray Stark, the power behind such movies as Funny Girl and Steel Magnolias, who is currently developing a film called Renegades for Carolco.

Although Stark's office declined comment, sources say he wants Mel Gibson and Julia Roberts to costar in the period Western about a bounty hunter's romance with a part-Native American woman. Reportedly, Gibson and Roberts are interested.

The hang-up at the moment is scheduling. Gibson, who had said he wanted a year off after shooting Hamlet, would be ready for Renegades in September. Roberts, meanwhile, has told her handlers that she needs a rest and wouldn't want to start the project, or anything, until April '92. We'll keep you posted.

SO DO WE BUY A GIFT OR NOT?

When we last left Sean Penn and Robin Wright, she was pregnant with their first child, and the couple's Nov. 18 wedding had been postponed out of fear that the event might turn into a media circus. Still, Wright's publicist maintained the couple would get married "on a smaller scale" sometime before the birth of the baby (PEOPLE, Dec. 10).

Well, the baby is due on April 11, and still no wedding bells. What gives? Suddenly, Wright's publicist is not so sure. "Robin and Sean are living together in Malibu, but [their marital plans] change from one minute to the next," says the publicist. "They could elope—or do nothing."

SIGN OF THE TIMES
Ah, the power of prime-time TV. Joanna Kerns of ABC's Growing Pains was having breakfast recently at the swank Hotel Bel-Air in L.A. At various nearby tables were Robin Williams, Harrison Ford and Winona Ryder. A waitress asked Kerns for an autograph, explaining that it was for her daughter. Kerns obliged, and the waitress happily went back to work—without asking any of the other stars for their signatures.