By Stephen M. Silverman
Updated December 12, 2003 10:00 AM

MEET THE MARTINS: Not only are Gwyneth Paltrow and Coldplay’s Chris Martin expecting a baby next summer, but they’re also newlyweds, a source close to the actress confirmed to PEOPLE. Paltrow, 31, and Martin, 26, tied the knot in Santa Barbara, Calif., on Dec. 5, soon after receiving their marriage license at the Santa Barbara County courthouse, the magazine reports in its current issue. The surprise nuptials included no family members, not even Paltrow’s mom, Blythe Danner. After the hush-hush wedding, the couple escaped to the posh Esperanza Resort outside Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.

JACKSON DEFENSE: Authorities in Los Angeles previously cleared Michael Jackson of sexual allegations involving the same boy currently making claims against the singer in a Santa Barbara criminal case, according to an internal government memo uncovered by the Smoking Gun Web site. During an investigation last February, the minor “denied any form of sexual abuse” and said he never “slept in the same bed as the entertainer” when questioned by L.A.’s Department of Children and Family Services, according to the memo. The investigation concluded that the sexual allegations against Jackson were “unfounded,” reports the Smoking Gun.

‘AVERAGE’ CHOICE: Melana Scantlin made her choice on Monday’s finale of the NBC hit “Average Joe” and — surprise, surprise — she chose the good-looking Jason Peoples, 27, over the definitely average-looking (but financially well off) Adam Mesh, 28. Scantlin, 26, a former cheerleader for the Kansas City Chiefs who has her eye on show-biz, weeded out 15 other ordinary-looking suitors.

‘BACHELOR’ FLAT: Proving the skeptics right, Firestone tire heir and “The Bachelor” star Andrew Firestone, 28, told TV’s “Extra” that he and fianc e Jennifer Schefft are no longer a couple. “This is a decision we made together through long and thoughtful discussion,” he said in a statement. “It is totally amicable and, though we care for each other deeply, we have come to realize that our future goals are different.” Added Schefft: “Our love for each other was genuine, but we confronted the same challenges as any other couple trying to make a relationship work day-to-day.”

SEINFELD ZINGER: Jerry Seinfeld will write, produce and star in a computerized animated film for DreamWorks, to be called “Bee Movie,” AP reported. It’s about, well, bees. “I have always been fascinated by bee society, the world’s most harmoniously run organization, and now I finally am going to be in it,” said Seinfeld, 49. He will reportedly provide the voice of the lead male bee and will now begin working on a script for the project. No start date has been announced.