CHEAP, CHEAP, CHEAP! No, that’s not tiny birds you hear – it’s the sound of the “Extra” cast and crew twittering about the hit show’s tight-fisted, freebie-fixated host MARIO LOPEZ – EVA LONGORIA’s soul mate, and my old buddy from “The Other Half” days with co-stars DICK CLARK and DANNY BONADUCE.

(Sorry, buddy, but I just gotta do the news!) Anyway, the buffed, extremely handsome star (…doin’ the best I can for ya here, compadre…) beats even STAR JONES when it comes to snagging free stuff, sources say – designer duds, dude bling, a home makeover, etc. – and when dining out, Lopez often lopes off just before the check arrives.

But insiders were really shocked when Mario went mega-mooch, hustling an “Extra” boss to promote him a “freebie” diamond engagement ring from advertiser Kay Jewelers – so he could present it to baby-momma COURTNEY MAZZA!

Horrified, the exec wailed: “Are you KIDDING!? Enough with the freebies! This is a ring you’re giving to a woman you’re going to marry – not to mention she’s the mother of your child! Step up and PAY for it, Mario!

This is a very personal item – not something you barter for!” Shocked and upset at her reaction, Mario groused: “Fine, I’ll figure it out myself.” (Hey, amigo, still remember meeting your mega-cute Mom! Give her my best, okay?)