"Gossip, the mean-spirited transmission of information," according to Rabbi Nilton Bonder, "is one of the most important networks for the preservation and transport of rancor." In our culture, spreading rumors is viewed as entertainment. Some even see it as fun. Gossip, written by Gregory Poirier and Theresa Rebeck and directed by Davis Guggenheim, is a modern day morality play about the harm that can come to those who are the targets of this kind of rancor.

Three university students live together and are friends — Derrick Webb (James Marsden), a rich and amoral lothario; Travis (Norman Reedus), a reclusive artist; and Cathy Jones (Lean Headey), a vivacious young woman from Puritan stock. When Dr. James Goodwin (Eric Bogosian), a professor in a course on communications, challenges his students to think about the dire effects of wildfire rumors, these three decide to spread some gossip and then track its travels and permutations. The targets of the malicious story they concoct are Naomi (Kate Hudson), a rich girl, and Beau (Joshua Jackson), her boyfriend. The unfortunate result is the arrest of Beau for date rape.

Targeted for the youth audience, this thriller vividly reveals the destructive power of gossip and the ways it taints those who start it and those who lend their ears to it and then tell others. Everyone is demeaned by the mean-spirited transmission of information.